The Pennsylvania Parole Board (Board) consists of nine members, appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board may make parole and revocation decisions by a majority of the Board or in panels of two persons. Panels consist of one Board Member and one Hearing Examiner or two Board Members. A Hearing Examiner is also a decision maker empowered to sit on parole revocation panels, conduct parole hearings in lieu of panels and conduct parole interviews on behalf of the Board.
For voting purposes, the Board uses four groups based on the inmate’s current offense:
Group 1: Murderers and sex offenders
The majority of the board members must vote ‘yes’ for an inmate to be paroled. These inmates are interviewed jointly by two board members, or one board member and one hearing examiner. The hearing examiner vote does not count for these cases.
Group 2: Other violent inmates
At least two decision makers must vote ‘yes’ for an inmate to be paroled. These inmates are usually interviewed jointly by a board member and a hearing examiner.
Group 3: Non-violent inmates
Non-violent offenders need one ‘yes’ vote from a hearing examiner and one ‘yes’ vote from a board member. These inmates are usually interviewed by a hearing examiner.
Group 4: Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI)
RRRI-eligible inmates may be paroled if they receive a ‘yes’ vote from a hearing examiner.
It is the Board’s job to determine whether or not an inmate should be on parole. The Board’s main consideration is whether or not an inmate has reduced their risk of committing a new crime and can be safely supervised in the community.