In Nebraska, the provisions regarding pardon and parole are provided under R.R.S. Neb. § 83-188 through § 83-1,133, and Ne. Const. Art. IV, § 13. Pursuant to R.R.S. Neb. § 83-188, a Board of Parole is created (“Board”). For administrative purposes only, the Board will be within the Board of Pardons (“BOP”). The BOP has no authority, power, or responsibility over the Board, its employees, or the exercise of its functions under the provisions of the Nebraska Treatment and Corrections Act. The employees of the Board will be covered by the State Personnel System.
Duties of the Board
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-192 provides that the duties of the Board are to:
- Determine the time of release on parole of committed offenders eligible for such release;
- Fix the conditions of parole, revoke parole, issue or authorize the issuance of warrants for the arrest of parole violators, and impose other sanctions short of revocation for violation of conditions of parole;
- Determine the time of discharge from parole;
- Visit and inspect any facility, state or local, for the detention of persons charged with or convicted of an offense and for the safekeeping of such other persons as may be remanded to such facility in accordance with law;
Grounds of release on Parole
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,110 provides that a person is eligible for parole when the offender has served one-half the minimum term of his/her sentence. The Board should conduct a parole review not later than sixty days prior to the date a committed offender becomes eligible for parole, except that if a committed offender is eligible for parole upon his/her commitment to the department, a parole review should occur as early as is practical. No such reduction of sentence will be applied to any sentence imposing a mandatory minimum term. Every committed offender sentenced to consecutive terms, whether received at the same time or at any time during the original sentence, will be eligible for release on parole when the offender has served the total of one-half the minimum term. The maximum terms should be added to compute the new maximum term which will determine the date when discharge from the custody of the state becomes mandatory.
Conditions of Parole
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,117 provides that the Board will in appropriate cases require a parolee, as a condition of the parole, either at the time of his/her release on parole or at any time while s/he remains under parole supervision, to reside in a community guidance center, boarding facility, halfway house, hospital, or other special residence facility, for such period and under such supervision or treatment as the Board considers appropriate.
Pursuant to R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,116, when a committed offender is released on parole, the Board will require as a condition of parole that the offender refrain from engaging in criminal conduct and can require the offender to submit to periodic testing for drug and alcohol use. The Board can also require, either at the time of the offender’s release on parole or at any time while the offender remains on parole, that the offender conform to any of the following conditions of parole, that include[i]:
- meet specified family responsibilities,
- devote himself/herself to an approved employment,
- remain in the geographic limits fixed in the certificate of parole unless granted written permission to leave such limits,
- report, as directed, to his/her district parole officer,
- reside at the place fixed in the certificate of parole and notify his/her district parole officer of any change in address or employment,
- submit himself/herself to available medical, psychological, psychiatric, or other treatment,
- refrain from associating with persons known to him/her to be engaged in criminal activities or, without permission of his/her district parole officer, with persons known to him/her to have been convicted of a crime, and
- satisfy any other conditions specially related to the cause of his/her offense and not unduly restrictive of his/her liberty or conscience.
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,116 also states that before release on parole, a parolee would be provided with a certificate of parole setting forth the conditions of the parole.
Authority of the Board
Pursuant to R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,114, whenever the Board considers the release of a committed offender who is eligible for release on parole, it will order his/her release unless it is of the opinion that his/her release should be deferred because there is a substantial risk that s/he will not conform to the conditions of parole; his/her release would depreciate the seriousness of his/her crime or promote disrespect for law; his/her release would have a substantially adverse effect on institutional discipline; or his/her continued correctional treatment, medical care, or vocational or other training in the facility will substantially enhance his/her capacity to lead a law-abiding life when released at a later date.
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,114 also states that in making its determination regarding a committed offender’s release on parole, the Board should take into account each of the factors such as:
- The offender’s personality, including his or her maturity, stability, and sense of responsibility and any apparent development in his or her personality which may promote or hinder his or her conformity to law;
- The adequacy of the offender’s parole plan;
- The offender’s ability and readiness to assume obligations and undertake responsibilities;
- The offender’s intelligence and training;
- The offender’s family status and whether he or she has relatives who display an interest in him or her or whether he or she has other close and constructive associations in the community;
- The offender’s employment history, his or her occupational skills, and the stability of his or her past employment;
- The type of residence, neighborhood, or community in which the offender plans to live;
- The offender’s past use of narcotics or past habitual and excessive use of alcohol;
- The offender’s mental or physical makeup, including any disability or handicap which may affect his/her conformity to law;
- The offender’s prior criminal record, including the nature and circumstances, recency, and frequency of previous offenses;
- The offender’s attitude toward law and authority; and
- The offender’s conduct in the facility, including particularly whether he or she has taken advantage of the opportunities for self-improvement, whether he or she has been punished for misconduct within six months prior to his or her hearing or reconsideration for parole release, whether any reductions of term have been forfeited, and whether such reductions have been restored at the time of hearing or reconsideration.
Duties of BOP
Pursuant to R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,126, a BOP will consist of the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. The Governor will be chairperson of BOP. The Secretary of State will be secretary of BOP and keep its records or designate such a record keeper. Any person in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services or under supervision of the BOP will be subject to the provisions of the Nebraska Treatment and Corrections Act[ii].
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,127 provides that the Board of Pardons has the following duties:
- exercise the pardon authority for all criminal offenses except treason and cases of impeachment;
- make rules and regulations for its own administration and operation;
- appoint and remove its employees as prescribed by the State Personnel System and delegate appropriate powers and duties to them;
- consult with the BOP concerning applications for the exercise of pardon authority; and
- exercise all powers and perform all duties necessary and proper in carrying out its responsibilities under the provisions of the Nebraska Treatment and Corrections Act.
R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,129 provides that any person desiring the BOP to exercise its pardon authority should request an application from its secretary. The application can be returned to the secretary and should state the specific relief requested and such other information as is prescribed by the BOP. Any application filed will be considered with or without a hearing by the BOP at its next regular scheduled meeting. If a hearing is held, it will be conducted in an informal manner and a record of the proceedings will be made and preserved according to the guidelines of the BOP.
[i] R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,116.
[ii] R.R.S. Neb. § 83-1,126.01.