Texas Pardon and Parole Laws
In Texas, the laws on pardon and parole are provided under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 48.01 through 48.05. Pursuant to the statutes, in all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment, the Governor has the power, after conviction, on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or a majority thereof, to grant reprieves and commutations of punishments and pardons; and upon the written recommendation and advice of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, s/he has the power to remit fines and forfeitures. The Governor must have the power to grant one reprieve in any capital case for a period not to exceed 30 days; and s/he must have the power to revoke conditional pardons. With the advice and consent of the Legislature, the Governor may grant reprieves, commutations of punishment and pardons in cases of treason[i]. The board consists of seven members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. Appointments to the board must be made without regard to the race, color, disability, sex, religion, age, or national origin of the appointed members[ii].
Powers and Duties of Board
Pursuant to Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.044, a board member must give full time to the duties of the member’s office, including duties imposed on the board by the Texas Constitution and other law.
Board members and parole commissioners must determine:
(1) which inmates are to be released on parole or mandatory supervision;
(2) conditions of parole or mandatory supervision, including special conditions;
(3) the modification and withdrawal of conditions of parole or mandatory supervision;
(4) which releasees may be released from supervision and reporting; and
(5) the continuation, modification, and revocation of parole or mandatory supervision.
Moreover, the board must develop and implement a policy that clearly defines circumstances under which a board member or parole commissioner should disqualify himself or herself from voting on:
(1) a parole decision; or
(2) a decision to revoke parole or mandatory supervision.
The board may adopt reasonable rules as proper or necessary relating to:
(1) the eligibility of an inmate for release on parole or release to mandatory supervision;
(2) the conduct of a parole or mandatory supervision hearing; or
(3) conditions to be imposed on a releasee.
The presiding officer may provide a written plan for the administrative review of actions taken by a parole panel by a review panel. Board members and parole commissioners must, at the direction of the presiding officer, file activity reports on duties performed under this chapter[iii].
The board members and parole commissioners must act in panels composed of three in matters of:
(1) release on parole;
(2) release to mandatory supervision; and
(3) revocation of parole or mandatory supervision.
Furthermore, the presiding officer must designate the composition of each panel and must designate panels composed of at least one board member and any combination of board members and parole commissioners. A parole panel may:
(1) grant, deny, or revoke parole;
(2) revoke mandatory supervision; and
(3) conduct parole revocation hearings and mandatory supervision[iv].
A parole panel may consider for release and release on parole an inmate who:
(1) has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the institutional division;
(2) is confined in a penal or correctional institution, including a jail in this state, a federal correctional institution, or a jail or a correctional institution in another state; and
(3) is eligible for release on parole.
The statute further states that parole is issued only on the order of a parole panel. Before releasing an inmate on parole, a parole panel may have the inmate appear before the panel and interview the inmate. A parole panel may release an inmate on parole during the parole month established for the inmate if the panel determines that the inmate’s release will not increase the likelihood of harm to the public. A parole panel may release an inmate on parole only when:
(1) arrangements have been made for the inmate’s employment or for the inmate’s maintenance and care, which may include the issuance of payment for the cost of temporary post-release housing; and
(2) the parole panel believes that the inmate is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding citizen[v].
Eligibility for Release on Parole
Pursuant to Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.145, an inmate under sentence of death, serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, serving a sentence for an offense under Section 21.02, Penal Code, or serving a sentence for an offense under Section 22.021, Penal Code, that is punishable under Subsection (f) of that section is not eligible for release on parole. An inmate serving a life sentence under Section 12.31(a)(1), Penal Code, for a capital felony is not eligible for release on parole until the actual calendar time the inmate has served, without consideration of good conduct time, equals 40 calendar years. Furthermore, an inmate serving a sentence under Section 12.42(c)(2), Penal Code, is not eligible for release on parole until the actual calendar time the inmate has served, without consideration of good conduct time, equals 35 calendar years.
Completion of Parole Period
Pursuant to the Texas statutes, to complete a parole period, a releasee must serve the entire period of parole. The time on parole is computed as calendar time. The division may allow a releasee to serve the remainder of the releasee’s sentence without supervision and without being required to report if a parole supervisor at the regional level has approved the releasee’s early release from supervision under Section 508.1555. Moreover, the division may require a person released from supervision and reporting to resubmit to supervision and resume reporting at any time and for any reason[vi].
[i] Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 48.01.
[ii] Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.031.
[iii] Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.0441.
[iv] Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.045.
[v] Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.141.
[vi] Tex. Gov’t Code § 508.155.