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TEXAS BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES

FREQUESTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR VICTIMS/SURVIVORS

Q: How do I sign up to speak with the Board of Pardons and Paroles before they vote on my offender’s parole?

A: Anyone can submit written protest materials to the TDCJ Victim Services Division (VSD) by mail, email, or fax. Their contact information can be found at http://tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/vs/index.html.

If you are a victim as defined by Section 508.117 of the Government Code (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.508.htm#508.117) and wish to visit the Board Office or speak to the lead voter by phone, you must register with VSD by calling (800) 848-4284.

Q: Will my opinions/input have equal weight if I speak to the Board by phone, or is it better to go in person?

A: The Board of Pardons and Paroles values all victim input. It is recognized by the Board that for a variety of reasons, a victim may not personally appear before the lead voter, and as such we allow for telephonic interviews.

Additionally, it is often easier to submit written materials rather than talk about the crime. The choice is yours.

Q: Is it a parole hearing like you see on TV? Is the offender there when I speak to the Board?

A: No. The offender remains incarcerated and would not be present at the Board office when/if you meet with the lead voter. Board offices are not located with TDCJ correctional facilities. Everything is confidential, including protest material sent in by mail.

Q: What should I know before speaking to the lead voter?

A: You might find it helpful to make a list of topics you want to discuss. It is common to be stressed/emotional/anxious and forget something you wanted to share. Keep in mind, the voters have access to all materials submitted during previous reviews. Also, if you want to submit photos, please provide copies, as the Board is unable to return the originals.

Q: If I choose to meet with the Board in person, can someone from Victim Services come with me for support?

A: Yes, as long as an employee is available, the TDCJ Victim Services Division or the Board’s Victim Liaison can provide accompaniment services upon request. To contact TDCJ-VSD call 800-848-4824 or email victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov . To contact the Board's Victims Liaison call 512-406-5833 or email Elizabeth.Hamilton@tdcj.texas.gov.

Q: Can a family member or friend come with me for support?

A: Statute requires the lead voter to speak with one victim, however when scheduling the visit you may request to have someone else present. It will be at the Board’s discretion how many people are allowed in the meeting. Please click the following link for more information:

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.508.htm#508.153

Q: What information should I include in my protest letter?

A: Please note the offender’s name and TDCJ# on all correspondence. You may want to write about fears or concerns regarding the offender’s release, things you’ve experienced as a result of the crime, and anything else you want the Board to consider.

Q: How do I know which Board Office will vote the offender’s case?

A: The facility where the offender is housed determines which of the 7 Board offices will vote the case. There are offices in Amarillo, Angleton, Austin, Gatesville, Huntsville, Palestine, and San Antonio. Each office consists of 1 Board Member and 2 Parole Commissioners, and in some cases only Board Members can vote (depending on the offense and applicable legislation). Please call 512-406-5833 for specific explanations.

Q: What’s the difference between the BPP Victim Liaison and the TDCJ Victim Services Division?

A: Statutorily, victims of crime are given the right to provide input to a parole panel prior to a decision being made. The Board created the Victim Liaison Program so that victims who interact with the Board have a central contact to provide feedback and obtain information

TDCJ’s Victim Services Division provides a wide variety of other services, including notification, training, accompaniment, and the Victim Offender Mediation Dialogue Program.

The VSD and BPP work closely to ensure consistent and reliable services are provided to victims and survivors of crime.

Q: Which factors are considered when the Board is voting on potential parole?

A: The offender’s initial parole eligibility date is set by State law. Once the offender becomes eligible, the Board will consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to: severity of the offense, support and protest letters, the length of the sentence vs. the amount of time served, the offender’s criminal history, how the offender behaved during previous periods of supervision (if applicable), institutional adjustment/behavior, and the offender’s age.

Q: How long does the voting process take?

A: The review process for an initial review is initiated about 4-6 months prior to the actual vote. This allows for the Institutional Parole Office to gather all relevant information and prepare a case summary to be presented to the voting panel. Additionally, any interviews to be conducted are done prior to the actual vote.

Subsequent reviews normally enter the review process about 4 months prior to the actual vote.

An offender’s review status can be checked via the following link:

https://offender.tdcj.texas.gov/OffenderSearch/index.jsp

Q: What options do the voters have?

A: The vote is not simply to release or to deny parole. The Board has many options, and they can be found here: http://www.tdcj.texas.gov/bpp/what_is_parole/vote-options.htm

Q: Why have I not received any notifications about the offender?

A: If TDCJ did not receive a Victim Impact Statement, the offender has not reached their parole eligibility date, &/or you have not requested notification through the Victim Services Division, you would not have received any notices. Please call 800-848-4284 to register for letter &/or Email notifications.

Q: What if the offender is released and then violates their parole conditions?

A: The Board has several options for those offenders who have violated the terms and conditions of release:

• Continue supervision under the same or modified rules. • Placement in an Intermediate Sanction Facility (ISF) for 60-180 days. • Placement in a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFP). • Revoke and return to the TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division (CID).

Statutory victims can register with VSD to receive text message notifications when warrants are issued by calling 800-848-4284. Offenders are entitled to a hearing(s) prior to a decision being rendered. For more information about the hearing process go to:

http://www.tdcj.texas.gov/bpp/revocation/revocation.html

Updated 10/24/2017

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