Did you know that, in most states, a parole board decides whether a prisoner
is released before serving their maximum sentence? And did you also know
that, in many states, parole board members are not required to have any
experience with the criminal justice system?
Parole can seem like one big gray area, made even more confusing and convoluted
because the rules differ by state. In Ohio, parole boards are said to
have “very limited” authority when it comes to
early release of prisoners. Turns out, this might be a good thing.
states where parole boards have the most power include: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Nevada, Wyoming, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah,
Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virginia,
Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Texas.
The most authoritative parole boards can decide:
- Which prisoners can be released from prison before serving the maximum
length of their sentence, and which must remain imprisoned;
- How long an inmate must wait before review by the parole board;
- What type of conduct can increase (or decrease) a prisoner’s chances
of being released on parole; and
- The terms of parole.
Once an individual is convicted, sentenced, and becomes an inmate, they
no longer have due process rights when it comes to parole, leaving them
in a legal limbo. These inmates are eligible for parole, but most have
no idea what they can do to earn it, and minimal rights if they are “wrongfully
denied” parole, which is difficult to prove.
The older an inmate gets, the statistically less likely they are to be
released on parole. Older inmates are not only less likely to reoffend,
but they are also the most expensive to keep in prison. Despite this,
our nation’s oldest prisoners are the least likely to be released
on parole. This may be due, at least in part, to the public chastisement
parole board members face upon releasing violent offenders.
About Ohio Parole Boards
In Ohio, parole boards can consist of up to 12 members. Ohio requires the
Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (or “DRC”)
to appoint these members. Unlike many states, Ohio requires all parole
board members to have criminal justice experience –
The members are appointed by the Director of the DRC, and must be qualified
by education or experience in correctional work, including law enforcement,
prosecution of offenses, advocating for the rights of victims of crime,
probation or parole, in law, in social work, or in a combination of the
Ohio parole board members are also subject to term limits. Each member
may only serve up to two separate six-year terms. Ohio also appoints hearing
officers, individuals who oversee and assess parole hearings. To learn
more about Ohio’s current parole board members,
visit the DRC online. Visit Chapter 5120:1-1 of the Ohio Administrative Code to learn more about
how parole works in Ohio.