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Violation Hearings

What is a violation hearing?
It is a second level hearing to determine whether or not a parolee violated the general or special conditions of their parole.

Why is this hearing held?
This hearing is required to be held pursuant to the United States Constitution and the Board’s regulations, which provide that a parolee is entitled to due process before they can be recommitted for a violation of parole.

When are these hearings held?
This hearing is held within 120 days of the preliminary hearing. A parolee may waive this hearing.

FICTIONAL EXAMPLE: If John had his preliminary hearing on 01.02.2020 or waived it on that day, the Parole Board has 120 days from that date to hold his violation hearing (i.e. 05.01.2020). If the 120th day falls on a legal holiday or a weekend, the last day to hold the hearing is the next business day.
Please note: This is a general rule. Some limited exceptions may change this timeframe.

Who makes the decision in this type of hearing?
The hearing is presided over by a Hearing Examiner OR a panel consisting of a Hearing Examiner and a Board Member. The decision is made in panels of two. If there is a disagreement in the revocation panel, the case is decided by Board Members appointed by the Chairman or the Chairman’s designee with two of the Board Members not on the original hearing panel.

What is the burden of proof?
Preponderance of the evidence

Does the individual have legal rights at this hearing?
At each type of hearing, individuals are given their rights verbally and in writing. Individuals have the right to:
• Disclosure of evidence in support of the violations charged against them.
• Speak, have voluntary witnesses appear on their behalf and present affidavits and other evidence.
• Cross-examine adverse witnesses.
• Be represented by counsel. If an individual cannot afford counsel, they may request counsel from the public defender of the county in which they are incarcerated. There is no penalty for requesting counsel.
• Request a continuance of the hearing for a good cause.

What happens after the hearing is held?
One of the following decisions will be reached:
 (1) preponderance established – continue on parole
 (2) preponderance established – recommit or
 (3) preponderance not established – continue on parole.

Definitions:  CCC: Community Corrections Center | CCF: Community Corrections Facility | CCJ: Contracted County Jail | PVC: Parole Violator Center | PV: Parole Violator | SCI: State Correctional Institution

Continuing on parole after second level hearings means the decision maker did not find a preponderance of the evidence to conclude the parolee violated parole or the circumstances did not warrant revoking parole. Additionally, the decision maker has the option to continue on parole, but may add additional parole supervision requirements.

If recommitted, a parolee shall be detained in a CCC, CCF, or any secured facility operated or contracted by the DOC.

Technical parole violators sent to a CCC or CCF will usually serve between 60 and 120 days, depending on their satisfactory adjustment while at the center. The maximum length of recommitment to a CCC or CCF is 6 months. The PV will be released on automatic reparole at that time unless he or she is not in “good standing with the Parole Board.”

TPVs returned to a CCJ or an SCI will serve up to 6 months for the first violation, up to 9 months for the second violation and up to 12 months for the third and subsequent violations before being automatically reparoled, without having to be interviewed or reviewed by the Board.

However, if the parolee has: 1) committed disciplinary infractions involving assaultive behavior; 2) committed a sexual assault; 3) had possession of a weapon or controlled substance; 4) has spent more than 90 days in segregated housing due to one or more disciplinary actions; or, 5) has refused programming or work assignments, the PV is not entitled to automatic reparole. The PV will be listed for review at a later date to go before the Board for a parole interview.

Continuing on parole after a second level hearing means either the decision makers did not find enough evidence to suggest the parolee violated parole OR it could mean there was enough evidence to recommit the parolee to prison, but the decision makers determined the parolee could be safely returned to the street without being recommitted to a CCC, CCF, or secured facility.

Recommitment means the parolee was found to have violated the conditions of their parole, and the decision makers chose to return the parolee to a CCC, CCF, or secured facility.

If a parolee waives his/her hearing rights, the Parole Board will examine the facts of the case and make a decision based on the waiver, admission (if applicable) and any reports or evidence that are made available. The Parole Board will then make a decision on whether recommitment is warranted based on that information and issue one or more Parole Board actions reflecting that decision.

How long does it take to reach a decision?
Unfortunately, an exact date or time when a Board Action will be finalized and given to the inmate is difficult to calculate because of multiple factors. Recommitment Board Actions (following parole violation hearings) generally take several weeks from the hearing or waiver date; however, depending upon the type of case, the final decision may take up to 12 weeks to process.

What does the date listed in the Board Action mean?
In the Board Action, a line in the document will state: NOT ELIGIBLE FOR REPAROLE UNTIL [a date listed by mm/dd/yyyy]. This date is the automatic reparole date. A technical parole violator will be released no later than the automatic reparole date unless their automatic reparole is rescinded.

How is the decision given to the inmate?
The Parole Board will send notice of its determination to the inmate directly and to the attorney who represented the inmate at the hearing. All decisions are mailed to the inmate or attorney through the U.S. mail system. Because the mail must go through the Department of Corrections’ mail screening process, this will add extra time to the inmate’s receipt of the decision. According to policy, the inmate must receive a copy of the final Board Action first before it can be released to the general public, even if those requesting a copy are family or friends.

Can the decision be appealed?
An incarcerated person or his/her attorney may appeal a revocation/recalculation decision. The inmate has 30 days from the mailing date of the Parole Board’s order to appeal this decision to the Parole Board. When a timely appeal of a revocation decision has been filed, the revocation decision will not be final for an appeal to a court until the Parole Board has mailed its decision on the appeal.

The scope of review of an appeal is limited to whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence, an error of law has been committed or these has been a violation of constitutional law.

The failure to file an appeal with brevity, accuracy, and clarity of what is essential to an adequate understanding of the factual and legal points requiring consideration will be a sufficient reason for denying the appeal.

Subsequent or second appeals that are not filed in a timely manner will not be received.

What is a petition for administrative review?
An inmate/parolee may petition for administrative review and they shall be received at the Parole Board’s Central office within 30 days of the mailing date of the Parole Board’s determination. The determination will not be deemed final for purposes of appeal to a court until the Parole Board has mailed its response to the petition for administrative review.

The failure to file a petition for administrative review with brevity, accuracy, and clarity of what is essential to an adequate understanding of the factual and legal points requiring consideration will be a sufficient reason for denying the appeal.

Subsequent or second petitions for administrative review that are not filed in a timely manner will not be received.

After which, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure, a parolee can file a petition for review with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court within 30 days after the entry of a Parole Board order denying a petition for administrative review.1

    142 Pa. C.S. § 763; Pa.R.A.P. 1512.