The Parole Process
“Juvenile lifers” must apply for a PCRA in their committing county. If the PCRA is granted, the inmate will have a resentencing hearing. Victims are granted the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement. If the “juvenile lifer” is re-sentenced, they may become eligible for a parole interview. The parole eligibility date is determined by the new dates given in the re-sentence.
If inmates are resentenced:
• The Department of Corrections (DOC) ensures the inmate is prioritized for admission to recommended programming.
• The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP) will interview the inmate for parole consideration consistent with the re-sentence minimum date.
• The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) will reach out to registered victims to review their legal rights to address the decision makers regarding their thoughts on parole.
• The PBPP would render a decision, and the OVA would inform registered victims of that decision immediately.
Additionally, a judge could order a new sentence for the inmate of “time served” and require an extended probation period for the inmate in the community.
Parole is the release of an inmate from prison prior to his or her sentence’s maximum date, but after the minimum sentence date, to continue serving the balance of the sentence under supervision in the community. Parole is a conditional release that requires parolees to abide by rules that do not apply to other members of society. In Pennsylvania, parole is a privilege, not a right; it is not automatic or guaranteed.
Inmates who have served their minimum sentence are eligible for parole consideration. As a discretionary parole state, individuals are given a minimum and maximum sentence date by the judge. State sentenced inmates must serve the minimum amount of time in prison before they can be considered for parole and - if granted parole - will remain on parole supervision until their maximum sentence date.
After an inmate is re-sentenced, the DOC will receive the court paperwork and a new sentence status summary will be created and sent to PBPP. PBPP staff will place the inmate on the appropriate interview schedule. If the time has been served by the inmate, it will be the next available docket. PBPP will request an official version of the offense, as required by law, if one is not available. PBPP staff prepares the inmate for their parole interview.
On average, it takes the board and the Department of Corrections seven weeks to put together the materials needed for an interview:
Two weeks are needed to produce the forms necessary and to calculate the minimum date.
Five weeks are needed to assemble the file and add the inmate to the docket. The board works to fit the juvenile lifers into the parole interview docket schedule, which is usually set three-four months ahead of time. Currently, staff is adding an average of seven interviews to the docket each month.
The Parole Interview
An interview with a juvenile lifer is unique from other inmates because it requires two board members during the interview. At least one board member is in person; the other may participate via video conference. Non juvenile lifer interviews require only one board member and one hearing examiner. Five votes from among the nine-member board are needed to grant parole.
For the parole interview:
1. A pre-parole interview will be conducted by staff with the inmate to help prepare the inmate for the parole interview.
2. Victims are given the opportunity to provide in-person testimony prior to the parole interview.
3. The inmate is interviewed by the board. The board will consider the same factors required by law for all adult inmates.
4. All inmates are strongly encouraged to develop an approved home plan ~ or the place where the inmate plans to live in the community. If a home plan hasn’t been approved, the inmate may be placed in a community corrections center and then transitioned to an approved home plan. This process could take up to one year.