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TEXAS BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES

REVISED PAROLE GUIDELINES

HISTORY

In 1985, the Texas legislature mandated that the Board of Pardons and Paroles include parole guidelines, with minimum release criteria, in parole decision-making. The enabling legislation required the guidelines to set criteria for making parole decisions.

Based on research, the guidelines were to consider the seriousness of the offense (policy) and the likelihood of a favorable parole outcome (risk). [See 508.036 of the TX Government Code.] In 1987 the Board formally adopted parole guidelines.

In 1996 the Criminal Justice Policy Council reviewed the Board's use of the guidelines and recommended revising them to take a comprehensive approach to parole decision-making.

After extensive review, the Board issued a Request for Proposals for consulting services to develop a revised parole guidelines system.  The Board contracted with Security Response Technologies, Inc. to develop new guidelines, which were adopted by the Board at its January 2001 meeting.

In 2012, the Board revised the guidelines based on a revalidation study of the original risk scale.

COMPONENTS OF THE GUIDELINES

The revised parole guidelines consist of two major components that interact to provide a single score.  The first is a Risk Assessment Instrument that weighs both static and dynamic factors associated with the offender’s record.  The other component is Offense Severity class.

Risk Assessment Instrument

Static factors are those associated with the offender's prior criminal record. They do not change. Dynamic factors reflect characteristics the offender has shown since being incarcerated and can change over time.

Static factors include:

Dynamic factors include:

An offender can be assigned 0-10 points on static factors and 0-9 points on dynamic factors. A low score is associated with low risk. The higher the score, the greater the risk the offender presents for a successful parole:

Score Assigned Risk Level Based on the total of static and dynamic factor points, the risk level to be assigned to the offender should be determined below:
MALE
FEMALE
Points
Points
Low Risk
3 or less
3 or less
Moderate Risk
4-8
4-9
High Risk
9-15
10+
Highest Risk
16+
N/A

Offense Severity Class

Members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles have assigned an offense severity ranking to every one of the 2,623 felony charges in the Criminal Code. Offense Severity classes range from Low for non-violent crimes such as credit card abuse, to Highest for capital murder. An offender's most serious active offense is assigned an Offense Severity Class according to the established list.

THE PAROLE GUIDELINES SCORE

After both of the above factors have been considered, the two components of the guidelines are then merged into a matrix that creates the offender’s Parole Guidelines Score based on the intersection of his risk level and the offense severity rating separate risk scales have been developed for male and female offenders. Parole Guidelines Scores range from 1 for an individual with the poorest probability for success, up to 7 for an offender with the greatest probability of success.

RISK LEVEL

 
MALE
FEMALE
 
Risk Level
Risk Level
OFFENSE SEVERITY CLASS
Highest
High
Mod.
Low
High
Mod.
Low
Highest
1
2
2
3
2
2
3
High
2
3
4
4
3
4
4
Moderate
2
4
5
6
4
5
6
Low
3
4
6
7
4
6
7

The higher an offender’s score, the better risk he is predicted to be to complete parole.  The guidelines are not automatic nor is the parole guidelines score presumptive as to whether an offender will be paroled.  Board members retain the discretion to vote outside the guidelines when the circumstances of an individual case merit their doing so.

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Updated 12/02/2013

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