The Utah laws on pardon and parole are found in Utah Code Ann. §§ 77-27-1 through 77-27-31.
Board of Pardons and Parole
Pursuant to the Utah statutes, there is created the Board of Pardons and Parole. The board must consist of five full-time members and five pro tempore members to be appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate as provided in this section. The members of the board must be resident citizens of the state. The governor must establish salaries for the members of the board within the salary range fixed by the Legislature in Title 67, Chapter 22, State Officer Compensation. The full-time board members must serve terms of five years. The terms of the full-time members must be staggered so one board member is appointed for a term of five years on March 1 of each year. The pro tempore members must serve terms of five years. The governor may at any time remove any member of the board for inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance or malfeasance in office, or for cause upon a hearing.
The Board of Pardons and Parole may review outside employment by the mental health advisor. The Board of Pardons and Parole must develop rules governing employment with entities other than the board by the mental health advisor for the purpose of prohibiting a conflict of interest.
The mental health adviser must:
- act as liaison for the board with the Department of Human Services and local mental health authorities;
- educate the members of the board regarding the needs and special circumstances of mentally ill persons in the criminal justice system;
- in cooperation with the Department of Corrections, monitor the status of persons in the prison who have been found guilty and mentally ill;
- monitor the progress of other persons under the board’s jurisdiction who are mentally ill;
- conduct hearings as necessary in the preparation of reports and recommendations; and
- perform other duties as assigned by the board[i].
Board of Pardons and Parole Authority
The Board of Pardons and Parole must determine by majority decision when and under what conditions, subject to this chapter and other laws of the state, persons committed to serve sentences in class A misdemeanor cases at penal or correctional facilities which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections. All felony cases except treason or impeachment or as otherwise limited by law, may be released upon parole, pardoned, ordered to pay restitution, or have their fines, forfeitures, or restitution remitted, or their sentences commuted or terminated. The board may sit together or in panels to conduct hearings. A commutation or pardon may be granted only after a full hearing before the board. Decisions of the board in cases involving paroles, pardons, commutations or terminations of sentence, restitution, or remission of fines or forfeitures are final and are not subject to judicial review.
Moreover, in determining when, where, and under what conditions offenders serving sentences may be paroled, pardoned, have restitution ordered, or have their fines or forfeitures remitted, or their sentences commuted or terminated, the board must consider whether the persons have made or are prepared to make restitution as ascertained in accordance with the standards and procedures of, as a condition of any parole, pardon, remission of fines or forfeitures, or commutation or termination of sentence. In determining whether parole may be terminated, the board must consider the offense committed by the parolee, the parole period as provided in Section 76-3-202, and in accordance with Section 77-27-13[ii].
Furthermore, the Board of Pardons and Parole may pardon or parole any offender or commute or terminate the sentence of any offender committed to a penal or correctional facility under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections for a felony or class A misdemeanor. The board may not release any offender before the minimum term has been served unless the board finds mitigating circumstances which justify the release and unless the board has granted a full hearing, in open session, after previous notice of the time and place of the hearing, and recorded the proceedings and decisions of the board. The board may not pardon or parole any offender or commute or terminate the sentence of any offender unless the board has granted a full hearing, in open session, after previous notice of the time and place of the hearing, and recorded the proceedings and decisions of the board. The release of an offender must be at the initiative of the board, which must consider each case as the offender becomes eligible. However, a prisoner may submit the prisoner’s own application, subject to the rules of the board promulgated in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act. The board may not parole any offender or commute or terminate the sentence of any offender before the offender has served the minimum term for the offense, if the offender was sentenced prior to April 29, 1996, and if:
(i) the offender was convicted of forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, or aggravated sexual assault as defined in Title 76, Chapter 5, Offenses Against the Person; and
(ii) the victim of the offense was under 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed.
However, the board may parole a person sentenced to life in prison without parole if the board finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person is permanently incapable of being a threat to the safety of society[iii].
Conditions of Parole
The Utah statutes further provide that when the Board of Pardons and Parole releases an offender on parole, it must issue to the parolee a certificate setting forth the conditions of parole which the offender must accept and agree to as evidenced by the offender’s signature affixed to the agreement. The parole agreement must require that the inmate agree in writing that the board may issue a warrant and conduct a parole revocation hearing if:
- the board determines after the grant of parole that the inmate willfully provided to the board false or inaccurate information that the board finds was significant in the board’s determination to grant parole; or
- the inmate has engaged in criminal conduct prior to the granting of parole; and
- the board did not have information regarding the conduct at the time parole was granted.
Moreover, the board may place offenders in an intensive early release parole program. The board must determine the conditions of parole which are reasonably necessary to protect the community as well as to protect the interests of the offender and to assist the offender to lead a law-abiding life. The department must:
- make rules in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, for operation of the program;
- adopt and implement internal management policies for operation of the program;
- determine whether or not to refer an offender into this program within 120 days from the date the offender is committed to prison by the sentencing court; and
- make the final recommendation to the board regarding the placement of an offender into the program.
However, the department may not consider credit for time served in a county jail awaiting trial or sentencing when calculating the 120-day period. During the time the offender is on parole, the department must collect from the offender the monthly supervision fee authorized by Section 64-13-21[iv].
Special Condition of Parole
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-10.5, the Board of Pardons and Parole may release the defendant on parole. As a condition of parole, the board may order the defendant to be prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging in any profit or benefit generating activity relating to the publication of facts or circumstances pertaining to the defendant’s involvement in the criminal act for which the defendant is convicted. The board may order that the prohibition includes any event undertaken and experienced by the defendant while avoiding apprehension from the authorities or while facing criminal charges. Moreover, the board may order that any action taken by the defendant by way of execution of power of attorney, creation of corporate entities, or other action to avoid compliance with the board’s order must be grounds for revocation of parole as provided in Section 77-27-11. Adult Probation and Parole must notify the board of any alleged violation of the board’s order under this section. The violation of the board’s order must be considered a violation of parole.
Rights of Parolee or Probationer
Pursuant to the Utah statutes, with respect to any hearing pursuant to the Uniform Act for Out-of-State Supervision, the parolee or probationer must have the following rights:
(a) reasonable notice in writing of the nature and content of the allegations to be made, including notice that its purpose is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that s/he has committed a violation that may lead to a revocation of parole or probation;
(b) be permitted to advise with any persons whose assistance s/he reasonably desires, prior to the hearing;
(c) to confront and examine any persons who have made allegations against him or her, unless the hearing officer determines that such confrontation would present a substantial present or subsequent danger of harm to such person or persons; and
(d) may admit, deny, or explain the violation alleged and may present proof, including affidavits and other evidence, in support of his or her contentions[v].
[i] Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-2.
[ii] Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-5.
[iii]Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-9.
[iv] Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-10.
[v] Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-29.