In Georgia, parole is a discretionary, multi-step process that allows for individuals to qualify for early release from their prison sentences depending upon whether they meet certain conditions and criteria set by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles (the “Board”). The parole process is complex and requires inmates (and their loved ones) to follow variety regulations and documentation requirements codified in the Georgia Code, which culminates in the five members of the Board voting on each inmate’s parole package. See O.G.C.A. §§ 42-9-1 through 42-9-22.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, we have successfully navigated this process for countless individuals by creating a customized parole package that, among other things:
- highlights the unique circumstances of each individual and mitigating factors applicable to the underlying offense;
- demonstrates the success the offender has had while in prison; and
- establishes a clear and seamless re-entry into society (g., housing, employment and support network).
To obtain a parole ruling for inmates who do not face life sentences, the offender must follow a series of steps:
This packet is created and sent to the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”) immediately after the offender’s sentence is finalized. This packet details the maximum prison time and release date as well as the Parole Eligibility Date.
The inmate moves to a GDC Diagnostic Prison where they are interviewed and asked to fill out a series of questions about their personal history. The parole investigator will then evaluate the court records from this offense and any previous charges. This information is compiled in a parole report and is part of the consideration for the inmate’s parole decision.
Parole Package Created
This package typically contains the following documents:
- The Sentencing Packet
- The Corrections Diagnostic Packet from the GDC Diagnostic Prison
- The Personal History Questionnaire from Pre-Parole
- The Social and Legal Analyses from Pre-Parole
- The Individual’s Risk to Re-Offend, Severity of Crime and Grid System Suggestion
- The Hearing Examiner’s Summary of the Documents above
- The Prison Disciplinary Reports of Any Misconduct
- Relevant Correspondence between the Family or the Victim and the Offender
- Statements from the Judge, District Attorney, Witnesses, Police Officers, Detectives, Victims or Community Members
- Participation in Any GDC Programs While in Prison
Typically, these records are not open to the public unless they were already a matter of public record (such as a court record).
State Board Members Vote
The Board considers whether the offender is safe to reenter society, if they can acquire and maintain a home and a job, and if they will be financially self-sufficient or dependent upon the state.
The Board’s decision will be one of three options: a planned Tentative Parole Month (TPM), a planned Reconsideration Date, or neither. This plan can change if any disciplinary issues or new information arises. Offenders who are not facing life sentences and have a reconsideration date become eligible for this process again at least every five years.
Notice of Tentative Action
The offender receives the Board’s decision in this notice. If the letter does not mention a TPM or a reconsideration date, they will have to finish out their sentence in prison. However, the Board members can modify their decision based on new information and additional developments.
An offender can request reconsideration based on the merits of their case or an error in the prior recommendation. This appeal must be filed within 30 days of the Board’s decision.
The documents and information in the parole package can be updated before the Board performs its Final Review. This decision can revoke the TPM or reconsideration date.
Violations and Ineligibilities
Any violations of the individual’s parole conditions will result in arrest for the remainder of the original prison sentence. While some offenders return to prison, others are unable to be considered for parole.
A person convicted of four felonies or sentenced to prison for life with no parole will never have the option for parole consideration. However, Article IV, Section II of the Georgia Constitution states that offenders facing life sentences are not eligible for parole review until they serve 25 years of their sentence.
If you are nearing your eligibility for parole, contact our office to help you gather the necessary materials and information for your parole package.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.