State Parole Board
The North Dakota state parole board consists of six members, who must be qualified electors of the state, appointed by the governor for terms of three years, arranged so that the terms of two members must expire on December thirty-first of each year. One of the members must be a person experienced in law enforcement, which may include experience as a prosecuting attorney, one must be a licensed attorney, and four must be persons qualified by special experience, education, or training. The governor may only remove a member of the parole board for disability, inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office[i].
General Powers of Board
The board may issue process requiring the presence of any person or officer before it, with or without books and papers, in any matters pending before said board. If any such person or officer disobeys the order of the board, the chairman, or acting chairman, of such board may apply to any judge of the district court for an order requiring the attendance of such person or officer, with or without books and papers described in the process. The failure of any such person or officer to comply with such order of the district court must be held to be a contempt of court and must be punishable accordingly. Any member of the board, the parole officer, or anyone appointed by the board to secure information for said board must have the power to examine witnesses and records and to administer oaths to witnesses. The board may employ psychiatrists or specialists for mental or medical examination of applicants and may take such reasonable steps as it may deem necessary for proper determination of any matters before it[ii].
Application for Parole
Pursuant to the statutes, an applicant for parole must file an application with the department of corrections and rehabilitation. The parole board may consider the application at a meeting scheduled by the chairman. The board may request an applicant to personally appear before the board before the board makes a decision on an application. The board may grant or deny parole, or grant a conditional parole, or continue its consideration to another meeting. In the event of an application for emergency parole, two members of the parole board may grant emergency parole, subject to terms and conditions of emergency parole that may be established by two members of the parole board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation. An applicant who receives parole remains in the legal custody of the department of corrections and rehabilitation until the expiration of the maximum term or terms of imprisonment for which the applicant was sentenced, less any sentence reduction the applicant has received[iii].
Breach of Parole
The North Dakota statutes further provide that when it is alleged that a parolee has violated any of the terms or conditions of parole established by the parole board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation, the director of the department of corrections and rehabilitation may issue a warrant for the arrest of the parolee. Upon issuance of a warrant of arrest for a parole violation, the running of the time period of parole must be suspended until the parole board issues a final order under this section. The parolee is entitled to credit for time spent in physical custody from the time of arrest until the time the parole board issues a final order.
Moreover, the parolee is entitled to a preliminary hearing, as promptly as is convenient after the arrest and reasonably near the place of the alleged violation or arrest, to determine whether there is probable cause to find that the parolee violated any of the terms and conditions of parole established by the board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation. The preliminary hearing must be conducted before the director of the department of corrections and rehabilitation or other hearing officer authorized by the director. The preliminary hearing must be conducted by a disinterested hearing officer not directly involved in the supervision of the parolee or by the person bringing the allegation of a parole violation.
If the hearing officer determines there is probable cause to find that the parolee has violated any of the terms and conditions of parole established by the board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation, the board may redetermine the time remaining in the period of parole to reflect any portion of the period during which the parolee was not under supervision or not in the custody of law enforcement personnel in the state. If the hearing officer determines there is probable cause to find that the parolee has violated any of the terms and conditions of parole established by the board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation, the parolee must be returned to the physical custody of the department of corrections and rehabilitation, transferred to another correctional facility or the state hospital, or released from actual custody pursuant to such terms and conditions as may be established by the parole board or the department of corrections and rehabilitation, pending a final revocation hearing before the parole board. If the board determines at the final revocation hearing that the parolee has violated any of the terms and conditions of parole established by the board or by the department of corrections and rehabilitation, it may order that the parolee be recommitted to the physical custody of the department of corrections and rehabilitation to serve all or part of the remaining time of the sentence that has not been served in custody.
Furthermore, at any hearing pursuant to this section a record must be made and the parolee must have:
a. Written notice of the purpose of the hearing and the alleged violations.
b. The opportunity to be heard in person and present witnesses and documentary evidence.
c. The opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, unless the hearing officer determines that confrontation would create a risk of harm to the witness.
d. A written statement as to the reasons for the decision.
Pursuant to the statutes, when the board determines the parolee has absconded from supervision, the board may order the parolee to pay the costs of being returned to the board[iv]. The parole board must establish parole expiration dates in all parole cases. The parole board may not establish an initial parole expiration date that is earlier than the expiration date of the parolee’s court-imposed sentence, less sentence reduction received under chapter 12-54.1. The length of the period of parole may not be extended more than five years for a felony and two years for a misdemeanor beyond the date that the court-imposed sentence would have otherwise expired had parole not been granted. The parole board may allow a parolee to earn performance-based parole reduction at the rate of up to five days per month in accordance with performance criteria established by the parole board. The board may terminate a parolee’s supervision at any time earlier than the established date of release from parole if the parole board determines that early termination of supervision is warranted and termination of supervision is in the interest of justice. However, the parole board may not terminate supervision for a parolee who has a life sentence with opportunity for parole earlier than five years from the established date of release on parole[v].
[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 12-59-01.
[ii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 12-59-06.
[iii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 12-59-08.
[iv] N.D. Cent. Code, § 12-59-15.
[v] N.D. Cent. Code, § 12-59-21.