Parole is when someone is released from prison early and serves the remainder of their time in the community under supervision.
There are fees attached to pay for the supervision. That fee is generally $40 a month, which presents a significant burden to people in reentry trying to find jobs and housing. This is a significant and challenging barrier to successful reentry.
Navigating this barrier is critical to your success. Information on this fee can be found at the bottom of this page.
If you are on parole, you are required to meet certain conditions and it is extremely important that you do so in order to remain out of prison.
WHO DETERMINES IF A PERSON IS ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE?
The Maryland Parole Commission is charged with determining on a case-by-case basis whether inmates serving sentences of six months or more in state or local facilities are suitable for release into the community under certain conditions or supervision by the Division of Parole and Probation. This is done at Parole Hearings.
WHAT IS A PAROLE HEARING?
Most parole hearings are conducted by a Hearing Officer, who makes a recommendation to a Parole Commissioner. The institutional Case Manager assigned to the offender’s case will also be present.
At the parole hearing, the offender is interviewed to gather information. In addition to the information given by the offender, other case management information will be available to the Commission, as well as input from the victim. This will form the basis for the parole decision.
WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF A PAROLE HEARING?
- refuse parole;
- rehear at a specified time in the future; or
- approve for parole release.
IF PAROLE IS REFUSED, CAN AN OFFENDER REQUEST ANOTHER HEARING?
NO. Offenders refused parole do not have any more hearings.
IF PAROLE IS REFUSED, WILL THE OFFENDER SERVE THE REST OF THE SENTENCE IN PRISON?
No. Almost all offenders earn sentence credits while they are in prison. Some are given credit for good behavior and some for doing institutional assignments.
Even if an offender is not approved for parole, they will generally be released prior to he maximum expiration of their sentence to continue serving their sentence in the community. However, this kind of release is under conditions exactly like those of parole. If the conditions are violated, they may be sent back to prison by the Parole Commission.
WHAT WILL THE PAROLE COMMISSION CONSIDER WHEN MAKING A DECISION FOR OR AGAINST PAROLE?
The Parole Commission will consider many factors when weighing a decision about parole.
By Maryland law, the Commission must consider the following criteria when making any decisions about parole:
- The circumstances surrounding the crime;
- The offender’s physical, mental, and moral qualifications;
- The offender’s progress during confinement;
- Whether there is a reasonable probability the offender will not violate the law if paroled;
- Whether the offender’s parole would be compatible with the welfare of sociTheety;
- Any original or updated victim impact statement, and/or any information presented by the victim at a meeting with a Commissioner and/or at the time of an open parole hearing; and
- Any sentencing judge’s recommendation.
The Commission may also consider many other different types of relevant information, such as:
- Prior criminal and juvenile record:
- Prior substance abuse;
- Attitude and emotional maturity;
- Home and employment plans.
WILL THE PAROLE COMMISSION HEAR FROM THE VICTIM?
YES. Information from the victim is important in assessing the true nature, extent, and impact of the crime.
IF PAROLE IS GRANTED, WILL AN OFFENDER BE PAROLED THE SAME DAY AS THE PAROLE HEARING?
NO. If the Parole Commission grants approval for parole, certain pre-release conditions must be met before an offender can be released.
The majority of parole approvals call for a “delayed” release, meaning that the offender will be released in a future month/year, but only upon completion of specified pre-release requirements.
WHAT ARE PRE-RELEASE CONDITIONS?
Pre-release conditions include things like certified and approved home plans There are also special programs to help an offender change thinking patterns or help with employment readiness that may be required as a pre-release condition.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PAROLE PRE-RELEASE CONDITIONS ARE NOT MET?
If the offender fails to meet the pre-release conditions, or breaks institutional rules, the parole approval may be suspended and another hearing ordered.
WHAT ARE COMMON PAROLE CONDITIONS?
Although each case will vary, there are some common conditions placed on probation as as person is released back to the community under supervision.
Common conditions include:
- Regular meetings with the probation officer
- Community service
- Education and work commitments
- No alcohol consumption
- No firearms or other weapons possession
- Fines and financial restitution
- No contact with specific individuals
- No changing address without permission of the probation officer
THESE CONDITIONS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY AND IS YOUR FIRST STEP AT THE DISCIPLINE NEEDED FOR SUCCESSFUL REENTRY!
WHAT IS A PAROLE VIOLATION?
A parole violation happens when a person released on parole violates – or doesn’t meet – the conditions that were given for release. Common conditions are listed above.
These conditions will vary from case to case, but all require an active form of supervision and knowing those conditions and keeping them are key to success. These conditions should relate to the crime that you were found guilty of.
If you fail to meet the terms of release, you could end up back in prison again.
WHAT ARE “TECHNICAL VIOLATIONS” OF PROBATION?
A “technical violation” of parole occurs when the person on parole with a suspended sentence violates less rules of probation that are not necessarily the specific conditions set for the person on parole.
These do not involve a new offense or forbidden contact with a victim.
They are violations that seem trivial but are actually a BIG DEAL.
Examples of technical violations include:
- missing a restitution payment – even if you mean to make it up
- not paying monthly supervision fee
- being late (not just not showing up) for your appointment with your probation agent
- using marijuana
- or changing your address without first seeking permission from your probation agent
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU VIOLATE PAROLE CONDITIONS – TECHNICAL OR CONDITIONS OF YOUR CASE?
Many Maryland judges issue no-bail arrest warrants for every violation of parole – whether it’s technical or not – which could lead to time in a detention center until your case is heard. This could result in the loss of employment or housing and may damage family reunification.
Any violation is grounds for a parole violation hearing – sometimes known as a parole revocation hearing.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A PAROLE VIOLATION HEARING?
A parole violation hearing is held to determine whether or not a violation of parole has occurred.
Maryland law says that when it is practical, the same judge who handled the sentencing should preside over this hearing. This hearing is not considered a criminal case, but a civil case where the judge will decide what should be done – not a jury.
The violation of parole hearing is not based on a “beyond a reasonable doubt” like in a criminal case. Instead it is determined by a “preponderance of evidence.”
The defendant either agrees or denies that his/her parole was violated. The violation is denied by the defendant, a full hearing is held. At this hearing, a state’s witness – usually the parole officer – presents evidence to the court about the violation. Other witnesses may also be heard.
If the defendant is found to have violated parole, he or she must serve the rest of their sentence in jail.
ARE THERE ANY FEES ATTACHED TO PAROLE?
YES. And these fees present a significant hardship and barrier to successful reentry. It is important to develop a plan to deal with them.
The fees are generally $50 a month and are imposed as supervision fees.
If these fees are not paid, they are sent to a central collections and a 17% interest is applied. Not paying fees may also be considered a violation of parole.
ARE THERE ANY PENALTIES IF I DO NOT PAY THE FEES?
YES. The court may revoke parole for failure to make the required payment of the fee imposed under this section.
ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS TO THIS FEE?
YES. This would require a modification of probation and you may need the assistance of an attorney.
Maryland Rule 4-346 allows a party to file a motion at anytime “during the period of probation” to “modify, clarify, or terminate any condition of probation, change its duration, or impose additional conditions.”
The court can exempt all or part of this fee if:
(1) you have diligently tried but have been unable to obtain employment that provides sufficient income for you to pay the fee;
(2) you are a student in a school, college, or university or are enrolled in a course of vocational or technical training designed to prepare the you for gainful employment; and certification of student status is supplied to the court by the institution in which you are enrolled;
(3) you have a handicap limiting employment- as determined by a physical or psychological examination accepted or ordered by the court;
(4) you are responsible for the support of dependents and the payment of the fee is an undue hardship on the you; or
(5) other extenuating circumstances exist.
If you cannot pay your supervision fee for any of the reasons above, talk to your parole officer to help determine if you qualify for a waiver.