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Rhode Island Pardon and Parole Laws

Parole Board

In the state of Rhode Island, there must be a parole board within the department of corrections consisting of seven qualified electors of the state appointed by the governor.  In the month of January in each year, the governor must appoint one or more members of the board to serve in place of members whose terms have expired, for a term of three (3) years, and until his, her, or their successors have been appointed and qualified[i].

Issuance of Parole

Pursuant to the statutes, the parole board, in the case of any prisoner whose sentence is subject to its control, unless that prisoner is sentenced to imprisonment for life, and unless that prisoner is confined as a habitual criminal under the provisions of § 12-19-21, may, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the board, issue to that prisoner a permit to be at liberty upon parole, whenever that prisoner has served not less than one-third of the term for which he or she was sentenced.  The permit must entitle the prisoner to whom it is issued to be at liberty during the remainder of his or her term of sentence upon any terms and conditions that the board may prescribe[ii].

R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-10 provides that if a prisoner is confined upon more than one sentence, a parole permit may be issued whenever he or she has served a term equal to one-third of the aggregate time which he or she must be liable to serve under his or her several sentences, unless he or she has been sentenced to serve two or more terms concurrently, in which case the permit must be issued when he or she has served a term equal to one-third of the maximum term he or she is required to serve.  If a prisoner, whether in confinement or on parole, is sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment for an offense which was committed after imposition of the sentence then being served, a permit may not be issued until he or she has served in confinement at least one-third of the term of imprisonment to which he or she is sentenced for the subsequent offense.  In calculating the date the prisoner must become eligible for a permit, the time spent in confinement on an earlier imposed concurrent sentence must not be credited for the purposes of parole eligibility on the subsequent sentence. In the event a prisoner is convicted of two or more subsequent offenses and is sentenced to multiple terms of imprisonment for those offenses, the standards must be used to determine when he or she has served one-third of the terms of confinement imposed for the subsequent offenses and thereby is eligible for issuance of a permit under this subsection.

Release Criteria

Furthermore, a permit must not be issued to any prisoner under the authority of §§ 13-8-9 -13-8-13 unless it must appear to the parole board:

(1) That the prisoner has substantially observed the rules of the institution in which confined, as evidenced by reports submitted to the board by the director of the department of corrections, or his or her designated representatives, in a form to be prescribed by the director;

(2) That release would not depreciate the seriousness of the prisoner’s offense or promote disrespect for the law;

(3) That there is a reasonable probability that the prisoner, if released, would live and remain at liberty without violating the law;

(4) That the prisoner can properly assume a role in the city or town in which he or she is to reside. In assessing the prisoner’s role in the community the board shall consider:

(i) Whether or not the prisoner has employment;

(ii) The location of his or her residence and place of employment; and

(iii) The needs of the prisoner for special services, including but not limited to, specialized medical care and rehabilitative services; and

(5) That any and all restitution imposed pursuant to § 12-19-32 has been paid in full, or satisfactory arrangements have been made with the court if the person has the ability to pay.  Any agreement must be in writing and it is the burden of the person seeking parole to satisfy the parole board that this requirement has been met.  Any person subject to the provisions of this section may request an ability to pay hearing, by filing the request with the court which imposed the original sentence.

Moreover, in the case of a prisoner sentenced to imprisonment for life who is released on parole and who is subsequently convicted of a crime of violence as defined in § 11-47-2, the conviction must constitute an automatic revocation of parole and the prisoner must not be eligible for parole thereafter.  In the case of a prisoner convicted of a crime of violence as defined in § 11-47-2 and subsequently released on parole, should the prisoner, while on parole, commit an offense which results in a sentence of imprisonment for life, the conviction must constitute an automatic revocation of parole and the prisoner must not thereafter be eligible for parole[iii].

Parole Standards

Pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-14.1, at least once each calendar year the parole board must adopt standards to be utilized by the board in evaluating applications for parole of persons convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to the adult correctional institutions.  These standards must establish, with the range of parole eligibility set by statute, the portion of a sentence which should be served depending on the likelihood of recidivism as determined by a risk assessment, and must serve as guidelines for the board in making individual parole determinations.  The board must consider the applicable standard prior to rendering a decision on a parole application, and may make a determination at variance with that standard only upon a finding that the determination is warranted by individualized factors, such as the character and criminal record of the applicant, the nature and circumstances of the offense or offenses for which the applicant was sentenced, the conduct of the applicant while incarcerated, and the criteria set forth in § 13-8-14.  In each case where the board grants an application prior to the time set by the applicable standard or denies an application on or after the time set by that standard, the board must set forth in writing the rationale for its determination.

Terms of Parole

The statutes further provide that every permit issued by the parole board must entitle the prisoner to whom it is issued to be at liberty upon parole during the remainder of the term which he or she is under sentence to serve, upon any terms and conditions that the board may see fit in its discretion to prescribe, and the acceptance of the permit by the prisoner must constitute an agreement on the part of the prisoner to abide by and conform to those terms and conditions.  When a prisoner is released on parole to serve a sentence in another state, the board must request that the receiving state notify the board immediately upon the prisoner’s release from the correctional facility in the receiving state.  However, the executive secretary of the board must, within five days of receipt of the notice, notify the state police and the local police departments as set forth in § 13-8-9.1 of the release of the prisoner[iv].

Rhode Island Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-1.

[ii] R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-9.

[iii] R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-14.

[iv] R.I. Gen. Laws § 13-8-16.

Inside Rhode Island Pardon and Parole Laws