Can I Petition My Case for Parole?

After a prisoner has spent even a short amount of time in jail, he or she may begin to wonder whether his or her release can happen sooner than expected. In these instances, many imagine petitioning for parole, going before a committee and pleading for their release. However, this option is not available to all prisoners. Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Congress eliminated parole for federal defendants who were convicted of crimes committed after November, 1, 1987, persons convicted under District of Columbia law, “transfer treaty” inmates, persons who violated military law who are in federal civilian prisons, and persons who are defendants in state cases and who are under the U.S. Marshals Service Witness Protection Program.

Congress eliminated parole through this Act in part because of a fear of unpredictable outcomes.  For example, a prisoner who was sentenced to 25 years could possibly be released on parole after serving only a few short years. Even though the parole board was tasked to consider each prisoner’s likelihood of committing another crime, Congress was concerned about the release of potentially dangerous convicts who had not spent enough time behind bars. This concern was spawned by the growing sentiment and many studies conducted that questioned the effectiveness of prison-based rehabilitation programs in reducing crime.

What are Your Other Options?

Even though some federal prisoners may not qualify for parole release, there still are other options available. These include reduced terms for good behavior or supervised release.

Time off for Good Behavior

Many prisoners who, in the judgment of the Bureau of Prisons, have exhibited “exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations” can earn early release. For example, progress towards or completion of a high school diploma or equivalent degree can reduce the time of a sentence. Prisoners serving sentences of more than a year but less than life can earn up to 54 days per year off of their sentences for good behavior.

Supervised Release

Another option is supervised release, which is served immediately after a prison term. During federal supervised release, a probation officer will supervise the convict. The prisoner may be ordered to report to the probation officer or permit the officer to visit him or her at home or elsewhere as specified by the court. Another requirement that the court may place on the former prison is that he or she “work conscientiously at suitable employment or pursue conscientiously a course of study or vocational training that will equip him for suitable employment.” A former prisoner who violates the conditions of supervised release may be sent back to prison and potentially remain there until the end of the supervised release term.

If you have been convicted of a crime, please contact the experienced attorneys at Shein & Brandenburg. Our dedicated team will work with you during all stages of your case to ensure that all of your needs are met. It is our goal to see that your rights are protected and you are adequately represented.