Vermont Pardon and Parole Laws

In Vermont, pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 451, a parole board consists of five members.  The governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, must appoint five regular members and two alternates for terms of three years in such a manner that no more than three terms must expire annually.  Initial terms may be less than three years.  Each member and an alternate must hold office until a successor is appointed and qualified.  The governor must designate the board’s chair.  As far as practicable, the governor must appoint as members persons who have knowledge of and experience in correctional treatment, crime prevention or human relations, and must give consideration, as far as practicable, to geographic representation of the state.

Eligibility for Parole Consideration

The Vermont statutes provide that an inmate who is serving a sentence of imprisonment must be eligible for parole consideration as follows:

(1) If the inmate’s sentence has no minimum term or a zero minimum term, the inmate must be eligible for parole consideration within 12 months after commitment to a correctional facility.

(2) If the inmate’s sentence has a minimum term, the inmate must be eligible for parole consideration after the inmate has served the minimum term of the sentence[i].

Pursuant to the statutes, the board must interview each inmate eligible for parole consideration under section 501 of this title before ordering the inmate released on parole.  The board must consider all pertinent information regarding an inmate in order to determine the inmate’s eligibility for parole.  The board may grant parole only after an inmate is interviewed in accordance with this section.  The parole board may conduct the interview in person, by telephone or videoconference, or by any other method it deems appropriate.  An initial interview of the inmate must occur when the inmate becomes eligible for parole consideration under section 501 of this title.  An inmate eligible for parole consideration must, subsequent to the initial interview provided for above, be reviewed and interviewed thereafter, as follows:

(1) If the inmate is serving a maximum sentence of less than 15 years:

(A) the board must review the inmate’s record once every 12 months; and

(B) the board must conduct an interview of the inmate at the request of the department; and

(C) upon written request of the inmate, the board must conduct an interview, but no more than once in any two-year period.

(2) If the inmate is serving a sentence with a maximum of 15 years up to a maximum of life:

(A) the board must review the inmate’s record once every two years;

(B) the board must conduct an interview of the inmate at the request of the department; and

(C) upon written request of the inmate, the board may conduct an interview, but no more than once in any two-year period.

The board in its discretion may hear from attorneys or other persons with an interest in the case before the board.  A person presenting statements to the board may be required to submit the statement in writing.  Interviews and reviews must be conducted in accordance with the rules and regulations established by the board, which must be consistent with this section.  The board when formulating the conditions of a parole may take into consideration the emotional needs of the victim of an offender’s crime plus the needs of the victim’s family[ii].

Release on Parole

Pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 502a, no inmate serving a sentence with a minimum term must be released on parole until the inmate has served the minimum term of the sentence, less any reductions for good behavior.  An inmate must be released on parole by the written order of the parole board if the board determines:

(1) the inmate is eligible for parole;

(2) there is a reasonable probability that the inmate can be released without detriment to the community or to the inmate; and

(3) the inmate is willing and capable of fulfilling the obligations of a law-abiding citizen.

A parole must be ordered only for the best interest of the community and of the inmate, and must not be regarded as an award of clemency, a reduction of sentence or a conditional pardon.

Furthermore, any inmate who is serving a sentence, including an inmate who has not yet served the minimum term of the sentence, who is diagnosed as suffering from a terminal or debilitating condition so as to render the inmate unlikely to be physically capable of presenting a danger to society, may be released on medical parole to a hospital, hospice, other licensed inpatient facility or suitable housing accommodation as specified by the parole board.  The department must promptly notify the parole board upon receipt of medical information of an inmate’s diagnosis of a terminal or debilitating condition.

Terms and Conditions of Parole

The Vermont statutes further state that when an inmate is paroled, the parole board must establish terms and conditions of parole that it deems reasonably necessary to ensure that the inmate will lead a law-abiding life and that will assist the inmate to do so.  Such terms and conditions must be set forth in the parolee’s parole agreement.  Terms and conditions of parole must be designed to protect the victim, potential victims, and the public, and to reduce the risk of re-offense.  Such conditions may include prohibiting the use of alcohol; prohibiting having contact with minors; prohibiting or limiting the use of a computer or other electronic devices; permitting a probation officer access to all computers or other digital or electronic media, mail covers, subscription services, and credit card statements.

Moreover, the parole board may require a parolee as a condition of parole to participate, as a resident or nonresident, in programs at a treatment center for all or part of the period of parole, provided that the commissioner certifies that adequate treatment facilities, personnel, and programs are available.  If the commissioner determines that the person’s residence in the center or participation in its programs, or both, should be terminated, because the person can derive no further significant benefits from such residence or participation, or both, or because his or her residence or participation adversely affects the rehabilitation of other residents or participants, he or she must so notify the board of parole.  The board must thereupon make such other provision with respect to the person as it deems appropriate.  A person residing in and participating in programs at a treatment center must abide by the rules and regulations of the center and may be required to pay such costs incident to residents as the commissioner deems appropriate[iii].

Parole Agreement

28 V.S.A. § 502c provides that when an inmate is paroled the parole board must issue a parole agreement, which must set forth the name of the inmate paroled, the crime the inmate was convicted of, the date and place of trial, the sentence, and the terms and conditions of the parole.  A copy of the parole agreement must be furnished to the parolee and the commissioner.  The parole agreement must not become effective until it is signed by the inmate.  The parole board may withdraw the granting of parole at any time before the parole agreement is signed by the inmate.  After the parole agreement is signed by the parolee, parole can only be revoked in accordance with subchapter 4 of this chapter.  A copy of the parole agreement must be full authority for the commissioner to exercise all supervision and control over the parolee prescribed by law, and must be sufficient warrant for the detention of the parolee as provided in subdivision 403(2) of this title.

Termination and Discharge

Furthermore, if warranted by the conduct of the parolee and the ends of justice the board may terminate the period of parole supervision and discharge the parolee from parole supervision.  Supervision of a parolee serving a life sentence may be terminated only after 15 years measured from the date of first confinement.  The board must discharge the parolee at the expiration of the maximum term of his or her sentence[iv].  An inmate who has been re-confined following parole may be re-paroled by the board.  No person having been found guilty of more than two violations of parole by the commission of any offense whose maximum term of imprisonment is more than two years or life or which may be punished by death must be eligible for future parole during the balance of his or her original sentence[v].  28 V.S.A. § 453 provides that on request of the governor, the board must act as an advisory board to assist or act for him or her in investigating or hearing matters pertaining to pardons, and may make recommendations to him or her regarding such matters.

Vermont Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] 28 V.S.A. § 501.

[ii] 28 V.S.A. § 502.

[iii] 28 V.S.A. § 502b.

[iv] 28 V.S.A. § 506.

[v] 28 V.S.A. § 553.


Inside Vermont Pardon and Parole Laws