In Georgia, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-2, a State Board of Pardons and Paroles is established consisting of five members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation of the Senate.
General duties of board
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-20, in cases in which the chairman of the board or any other member designated by the board has suspended the execution of a death sentence to enable the full board to consider and pass on same, it must be mandatory that the board act within a period not exceeding 90 days from the date of the suspension order. In cases which the board has the power to consider, the board is charged with the duty of determining which inmates serving sentences may be released on pardon or parole and fixing the time and conditions thereof. The board is also charged with the duty of supervising all persons placed on parole, determining violations thereof and taking action with reference thereto, making such investigations as may be necessary, and aiding parolees or probationers in securing employment. It is the duty of the board personally to study the cases of those inmates whom the board has power to consider so as to determine their ultimate fitness for such relief as the board has power to grant. The board by an affirmative vote of a majority of its members has the power to commute a sentence of death to one of life imprisonment[i].
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-20.1, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles must develop and implement a system whereby any interested citizen is permitted to contact the board through an electronic calling system or by other means and receive information relating to persons who have been convicted of a felony, who have been paroled, and whose current addresses are within the State of Georgia. With respect to each parolee, the board must provide the parolee’s name, sex, date of birth, current address, crime or crimes for which the parolee was convicted, and the beginning and ending dates of such person’s parole. The board must not release any information regarding a person who has previously been paroled and whose civil rights have been restored. The board is authorized to charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs of providing such information[ii].
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-41, it is the duty of the board to obtain and place in its permanent records information as complete as may be practicable on every person who may become subject to any relief which may be within the power of the board to grant. The information must be obtained as soon as possible after imposition of the sentence and must include:
1) A complete statement of the crime for which the person is sentenced, the circumstances of the crime, and the nature of the person’s sentence;
2) The court in which the person was sentenced;
3) The term of his or her sentence;
4) The name of the presiding judge, the prosecuting officers, the investigating officers, and the attorney for the person convicted;
5) A copy of pre-sentence investigation and any previous court record;
6) A fingerprint record;
7) A copy of all probation reports which may have been made; and
8. Any social, physical, mental, or criminal record of the person.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-41, the board in its discretion may also obtain and place in its permanent records similar information on each person who may be placed on probation. The board must immediately examine such records and any other records obtained and make such other investigation as it may deem necessary. It is be the duty of the court and of all probation officers and other appropriate officers to furnish to the board, upon its request, such information as may be in their possession or under their control. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and all other state, county, and city agencies, all sheriffs and their deputies, and all peace officers must cooperate with the board and must aid and assist it in the performance of its duties. The board may make such rules as to the privacy or privilege of such information and as to its use by persons other than the board and its staff as may be deemed expedient in the performance of its duties.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-39, when a person has previously been incarcerated under a life sentence, such person must serve at least 30 years in the penitentiary before being granted a pardon and before becoming eligible for parole. When a person receives consecutive life sentences as the result of offenses occurring in the same series of acts and any one of the life sentences is imposed for the crime of murder, such person must serve consecutive 30 year periods for each such sentence, up to a maximum of 60 years, before being eligible for parole consideration. The board has the authority to pardon any person convicted of a crime who is subsequently determined to be innocent of said crime.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-42, no person must be granted clemency, pardon, parole, or other relief from sentence except by a majority vote of the board. A majority of the members of the board may commute a death sentence to life imprisonment. A grant of clemency, pardon, parole, or other relief from sentence must be rendered only by a written decision which must be signed by at least the number of board members required for the relief granted and which becomes a part of the permanent record.
O.C.G.A. § 42-9-42 provides that good conduct, achievement of a fifth-grade level or higher on standardized reading tests, and efficient performance of duties by an inmate is considered by the board in his or her favor and merits consideration of an application for pardon or parole. No inmate shall be placed on parole until and unless the board finds that there is reasonable probability that, if s/he is so released, s/he will live and conduct himself or herself as a respectable and law-abiding person and that his or her release will be compatible with his or her own welfare and the welfare of society. Furthermore, no person must be released on pardon or placed on parole unless and until the board is satisfied that s/he will be suitably employed in self-sustaining employment or that s/he will not become a public charge. However, the board may, in its discretion, grant pardon or parole to any aged or disabled persons.
O.C.G.A. § 42-9-42 provides that any person who is paroled must be released on such terms and conditions as the board prescribes. The board must diligently see that no peonage is allowed in the guise of parole relationship or supervision. The parolee must remain in the legal custody of the board until the expiration of the maximum term specified in his or her sentence or until s/he is pardoned by the board.
O.C.G.A. § 42-9-42 provides that the board may require the payment of a parole supervision fee of at least $10.00 per month as a condition of parole or other conditional release. The monthly amount is set by rule of the board and is uniform state wide. The board may require or the parolee or person under conditional release may request that up to 24 months of the supervision fee be paid in advance of the time to be spent on parole or conditional release. In such cases, any advance payments are non-reimbursable in the event of parole or conditional release revocation or if parole or conditional release is otherwise terminated prior to the expiration of the sentence being served on parole or conditional release. Such fees must be collected by the board to be paid into the general fund of the state treasury.
O.C.G.A. § 42-9-42 provides that if a parolee violates the terms of his or her parole, s/he shall be subject to rearrest or extradition for placement in the actual custody of the board, to be redelivered to any state or county correctional institution.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 42-9-52, no person who has been placed on parole must be discharged therefrom by the board prior to the expiration of the term for which s/he was sentenced or until s/he must have been duly pardoned or otherwise released. The board may adopt rules and regulations, policies, and procedures for the granting of earned time to persons while serving their sentences on parole or other conditional release to the same extent and in the same amount as if such person were serving the sentence in custody. The board is also authorized to withhold or to forfeit, in whole or in part, any such earned-time allowance. The board may relieve a person on parole or other conditional release from making further reports and may permit the person to leave the state or county if satisfied that this is for the parolee’s or conditional releasee’s best interest and for the best interest of society. When a parolee or other conditional releasee has, in the opinion of the board, so conducted himself or herself as to deserve a pardon or a commutation of sentence or the remission in whole or in part of any fine, forfeiture, or penalty, the board may grant such relief in cases within its power[iii].
[i] O.C.G.A. § 42-9-20.
[ii] O.C.G.A. § 42-9-20.1.
[iii] O.C.G.A. § 42-9-52.