Delaware Pardon and Parole Laws

Delaware laws on pardon and parole can be found in Chapter 43, Part II, Title 11 of Delaware statutes.  Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4341, a board of parole is established consisting of 4 members appointed by the Governor.

Duties of the Board

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4343, the Board must:
1) Be the paroling authority for the State;
2) Establish rules and regulations for the conduct of its own proceedings, and rules of procedure for the effective enforcement of this chapter. Copies of said rules and regulations shall be published and may be obtained upon request;
3) Determine the salary of any employee within the total appropriation in addition to proper expenses;
4) Meet at least once a month, for the transaction of business, and a sufficient other number of times as shall be necessary adequately to perform its duties under this chapter;
5) Keep a record of its acts and notify each applicant for parole, and the Department of its decisions;
6) Consult with the Department in the formulation and establishment of policies and procedures, fully to carry out the objectives of parole and correctional treatment in the best interests of the public;
7) Cooperate with the Department in preparing the annual report of the Board to be submitted to the Governor and make available and submit to the Department all statistical and other data of its work and compilation and analysis of dispositions as it shall require. The Board may make a separate statement or include such statement in the report of the Department to the Governor;
8. Act as advisory board to the Board of Pardons. When a person in legal custody of the Department of Correction applies to the Board of Pardons for recommendation for a pardon or commutation of sentence, the Parole Board, upon request, shall furnish to each member of the Board of Pardons and to the Governor a report of the record of such person, which shall include its opinion as to the state of rehabilitation of such person.

Eligibility for Parole

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4346, a person confined to any correctional facility administered by the Department may be released on parole by the Board if the person has served 1/3 of the term imposed by the court, such term to be reduced by such merit and good behavior credits as have been earned, or 120 days, whichever is greater.  The Board has the authority to act where the maximum term has been commuted by the Governor.  A person sentenced to imprisonment for life shall be considered as having been sentenced to a fixed term of 45 years[i].

11 Del. C. § 4346 provides that whenever the physical or mental condition of any person confined in any institution demands treatment which the Department cannot furnish, the Department may, recommend that the case be considered by the Board of Parole at a regular or special meeting.  When such case is considered, the Board of Parole, if satisfied that removal from the institution is necessary for the well-being of such person, may order the release of such person on parole without regard to the time already served by such person.  The Board of Parole must parole in such case only when arrangements have been made for the treatment of the person in some institution. The Board of Parole may impose any conditions of parole in such case, may revoke such parole without hearing at any time and for any cause, and order the return of the person to the Department[ii].

Parole Authority and Procedure

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4347, a person committed to the custody of the Department who will be eligible for parole within 180 days may apply for a parole hearing on forms promulgated by the Board. Upon receipt of such application, the Board notifies the Bureau Chief of Prisons of said application and request verification of parole eligibility.  Upon receipt of the foregoing information, the Board must determine within 30 days if a parole hearing will be scheduled.  If the hearing is denied or if the hearing is held and the applicant is denied parole and the Department is advised in writing by the Board of the earliest date, not sooner than 6 months for an applicant with a good-time release date of 3 years or less and not sooner than 1 year for an applicant with a good-time release date of more than 3 years, upon which the applicant is eligible to again apply for a parole hearing in accordance within this section.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that if any person eligible for parole fails to make an application, the Department has no duty to consider such person for parole.  The Department is permitted to provide the Board with the information otherwise required and the Board may, in turn, consider such person for parole.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that a parole may be granted when in the opinion of the Board there is reasonable probability that the person can be released without detriment to the community or to person, and where, in the Board’s opinion, parole supervision would be in the best interest of society and an aid to rehabilitation of the offender as a law-abiding citizen.  Among the factors the Board considers when determining if a defendant must be placed on parole are as follows: job skills, progress towards or achievement of a general equivalency diploma, substance abuse treatment and anger management and conflict resolution.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that all paroles must issue upon order of the Board duly adopted by a majority of those present and voting.  However, no person who has been convicted of and imprisoned for murder in the first or second degree, rape in the first, second or third degree, unlawful sexual intercourse in the first or second degree, kidnapping or any offense relating to the sale, attempt to sell, delivery or possession with intent to sell or deliver a narcotic drug will be granted a parole except by order of the Board duly adopted by at least 4 of the 5 members of the Board.  A quorum shall be a minimum of 3 members.  No parole must be issued to any prisoner who has been convicted in a court of law and sentenced for committing or attempting to commit the offense of “escape after conviction.”   No parole must be issued to any prisoner who has been convicted and sentenced in a court of law for the offense of “conspiracy in the second degree.”

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that every person while on parole must remain in the legal custody of the Department but is subject to the orders of the Board of Parole.  The period served on parole or conditional release is deemed service of the term of imprisonment.  When a person on parole or conditional release has performed the obligations of that person’s release for such time as shall satisfy the Board that the person’s final release is not incompatible with the best interest of society and the welfare of the individual, the Board may make a final order of discharge and issue a certificate of discharge to the person.  However, no such order of discharge must be made within 1 year after the date of release except where the sentence expires earlier thereto.  Such discharge, and the discharge of a person who has served the person’s term of imprisonment, has the effect of restoring all civil rights lost by operation of law upon commitment.  Except when discharged herein a person on parole or conditional release must be on parole until the expiration of the maximum term for which the person is sentenced.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that each person who is eligible for parole or conditional release is eligible to be a candidate for appointment to the house arrest program for nonviolent offenders. A person shall be eligible for consideration to participate in the house arrest program if such person meets all the following requirements:

1) Makes regular payments, per month, toward the costs incurred by the State in maintaining the program;
2) Performs such stipulated number of hours of public service work as are directed by the court or by the Department;
3) Makes restitution to any victim or victims in such amounts as the court shall determine. Full or partial restitution, in such manner as the court determines, is a requirement for participation, or continued participation, in the program.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that at least 30 days prior to a scheduled parole hearing for an inmate convicted of a felony offense, the Board shall notify the victim or the immediate family of the victim of the date, time and place of the scheduled hearing.  At least 30 days prior to a scheduled parole hearing for an inmate convicted of a felony offense, the Board must send a notice of the date, time and place of the scheduled hearing to the attorney general.

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4347, at the same time as the Board sends notice of its decision to the inmate, the Board must send notice of its decision to those who received notice under paragraphs (k)(1) and/or (2) of this section. No later than 10 days after a parole hearing resulting in the parole of an applicant, the Board must cause notice of its decision to be published in the same newspaper in which the notice of the hearing was published.

11 Del. C. § 4347 provides that any notice required to be provided to the victim or to the victim’s immediate family shall be mailed to the last known address of the victim or family member. It is the responsibility of the victim or the victim’s immediate family to provide the Board with a current mailing address.

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4348, a person having served that person’s term or terms in incarceration, less such merit and good behavior credits as have been earned, must, upon release, be deemed as released on parole until the expiration of the maximum term or terms for which the person is sentenced.  A person may waive the right to conditional release, in which case the person must serve the remainder of the term or terms in prison.  Such waiver must be in writing. Only persons who have been committed for 1 year or more is deemed to be released on parole, provided, the Department by general rule may lower said period of time.

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 4350, the Board must adopt rules for hearing oral statements or arguments by persons not connected with the Department of Correction when hearing applications for parole.  In developing those rules, the Board reserves for itself the right to:

1) Limit the length of each statement;
2) Restrict the number of individuals allowed to attend parole hearings in accordance with physical limitations or security requirements of the hearing facilities; and
3) Deny admission or continued attendance to individuals who threaten or present a danger to the attendees or participants or who disrupt the hearing.

11 Del. C. § 4350 provides that the Board may take formal action to close their proceedings upon a majority vote of members present for the following reasons:

1) To protect ongoing law enforcement investigations, upon written request of the attorney general or law enforcement agency;
2) To deliberate upon oral or written arguments received;
3) To provide opportunity for applicants to challenge confidential information which they believe is detrimental to their applications; or
4) At the request of the victim or, in the case of first-degree murder, the immediate family of the victim.

11 Del. C. § 4350 provides that the Department of Correction may appear personally before the Board to advise and be heard by the Board with respect to any application for parole being considered.  When the Board is hearing an application for parole made by an offender, the victim or immediate family of the victim of such crime or their duly appointed representatives may make oral statements or arguments before the Board with respect to the application for parole being considered.

Delaware Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] 11 Del. C. § 4346.

[ii] 11 Del. C. § 4346.


Inside Delaware Pardon and Parole Laws