Begin Main Content Area

Parole case example*

*NOTE: This case example is a fictitious person. It does not depict any actual person or event. For the purpose of this example, the individual has been named John.

A crime is committed. The suspect is over 18. There is sufficient evidence for an arrest. The suspect is arrested. The suspect is charged with the crime and prosecuted.  At the conclusion of the trial, the accused is found guilty. The convicted individual serves his state sentence at a state correctional institution (SCI) or county jail.

The Arrest and Conviction of John

John was 21 when he was arrested for entering an apartment without consent and attacking his victim. John is convicted of burglary and aggravated assault. He is sentenced to 4 years and 6 months to 10 years. His minimum sentence date (MIN) was November 28, 2013, and his maximum sentence date (MAX) was May 28, 2019.
The sentencing process can be a complicated process to understand. MIN… MAX… Original sentence…What does it all mean? More details about sentencing are explained in this sentencing information fact sheet. (pdf) For more detailed information on sentencing, please visit the website of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

John arrives at state prison

John is admitted to the Diagnostic and Classification Center. For male incarcerated individuals, this is State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill. For females, it is State Correctional Institution at Muncy. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) conducted a battery of assessments:
• Risk Screen Tool (RST): risk of reoffending and program indicator
• Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M): measures criminal attitudes
• Texas Christian University Drug Screen (TCU): substance abuse treatment
• Personality Assessment Inventory: guides future clinical interviews and programming, including violence indicator
• Psychological Assessment Interview: screen for clinical pathology and risk and mental health issues
• Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)

DOC Programs and Assessments

DOC's cognitive behavioral programming addresses treatment needs that have been proven to reduce recidivism.
• Thinking for Change: addresses criminal thinking
• Violence prevention: low, moderate and high intensity
• Batter’s intervention: addresses domestic violence
• Sexual offender programming: low and moderate/high
• Drug and alcohol treatment: based on TCU score (outpatient or therapeutic community)

After all of his assessments were completed, John had: no mental health needs, was low CSSM (criminal attitudes), high risk, low drug screen and high LSI-R (risk and needs). John did not attain a high school diploma and was a prior parole failure. While incarcerated, John obtained his GED and held a job within the SCI as a barber.

Things for John to remember as his parole interview approaches…

He was convicted in a court of law. The DOC and the Board cannot change his conviction. Both agencies are required to make decisions based on his conviction. John needs to start planning for his reentry back to the community, complete his programming and avoid any misconducts.
There is no right to parole in Pennsylvania. It’s the Board’s job to determine whether John deserves to be on parole for any part of his sentence between his MIN and MAX dates. The Board’s main consideration is whether or not his risk to reoffend is reduced and that he has demonstrated his future ability to function as a law-abiding citizen. 
The MIN date represents the minimum amount of time he must be incarcerated. He becomes eligible for parole release when he has served his MIN sentence. When he is released on parole, the date might be the same date as the MIN date, or soon after it. The Board Decision that grants parole will state “granted parole ON OR AFTER [date].”

8 months prior to John’s MIN Date…

The DOC and the Board work together to gather information for the parole interview. To do so, they gather the following information to consider:

• The nature and circumstances of the crime for which the inmate was convicted, as well as his/her entire criminal history including any juvenile arrests or adjudications
• Information regarding the general character and personal background of the inmate
• Notes on the sentencing hearing testimony
• Emotional stability: physical, mental, and behavioral condition and history of the inmate
• History of family violence
• Recommendation of the sentencing judge and prosecuting district attorney
• Input from the victim and the victim’s family
• The recommendation from the warden or superintendent of the facility where the inmate is incarcerated
• Misconduct record
• DOC/warden recommendation

4 months prior to John’s MIN date, the parole interview is held…

John was interviewed in prison in August 2013. Board Members prepared for the interview by reviewing his file. John was interviewed by two Board Members – one in person at the correctional facility and one via video conference. John’s case was a violent case requiring two decision makers to interview him. If the vote was a split decision, the case would go to a third Board Member.  Certain violent cases require a vote by a majority of the Board.


John was a:

Violence Category 2 – Violent offense with no violent history | LSI-R score of 7 - high risk
John received no misconducts while incarcerated. He was in compliance and participating in his programming, but his programming was not completed at the time of his parole interview.

3 months prior to John’s MIN date…

John receives his Board Action. (pdf) The Board Action is the official, written decision issued by the Board to either grant or deny parole following the parole interview/hearing. John was granted parole on or after November 28, 2013, his MIN sentencing date. In the Board Action, the reasons listed by the Board for granting parole were:
• Accepted responsibility (for his crimes)
• Recommendation of DOC
• Involved in programming
• Placement in a Community Corrections Center

Before John was released from the state correctional institution, there were a number of “checklist items” that he had to complete before he was released. The list of potential items to be completed before release and other parole release topics are in this parole release fact sheet. (pdf)

John’s conditions of parole

In addition to the general conditions of parole (pdf) that applied to John, he also needed to comply with these special conditions of parole:

• Paroled on or after November 28, 2013 to Community Corrections Center (CCC). While incarcerated, John submitted a home plan, but his request by the landlord was denied. John was to be paroled on or after November 28 to a CCC as he continued to work on another home plan.
• Maintain employment/training/schooling
• No contact with persons who sell or use drugs outside of a treatment setting
• Subject to drug testing and must pay for tests
• Cannot enter establishments that sell alcohol
• No contact with victim or victim's family in any manner
• No contact with associates or co-defendants
• Wage attachment for court-ordered financial obligations


John is released

John signed his release orders and conditions of parole and left the state correctional institution. He had to report to a parole office or CCC within 24 hours. John met with his assigned agent within 5 days. They reviewed his initial supervision plan. The supervision plan addressed John’s risks for reoffending and his needs to help him be successful on parole. This supervision plan is re-assessed every year and, for special circumstances, can be examined at six months. A visit to his approved home plan occurred within 10 days.


John violates parole

​While still at the CCC, John committed several center violations by signing out for work but failing to report to work. John’s parole agent worked collaboratively with CCC staff.  On his first violation John received a written warning. John later committed a second violation and his parole agent placed him on GPS. A week later, John had a positive urine for synthetic drugs. On February 6, 2014, John was unsuccessfully discharged from the CCC by the Bureau of Community Corrections (BCC) staff.  John’s parole agent submitted a referral to BCC, and he is placed in inpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

John was transported to an inpatient drug and alcohol program. Within 3 days, John was found with K2 (synthetic marijuana) in his pocket and refused to be searched by staff.

An expedited removal of John was requested by in-patient staff to his parole agent to remove him to a parole violator center (PVC). John was informed of his rights. He was given a Notice of Charges against him, which included being unsuccessfully discharged from the CCC and in-patient treatment. A preliminary hearing on John’s case needed to be held within 14 days. John chose to waive his rights to a preliminary hearing. While at the PVC, John was noncompliant with programming and had aggressive behavior toward staff.


John’s technical violation hearing

At the violation hearing, the parole agent provided the evidence. The CCC discharge summary stated: John had been signing out to go to work but was not reporting to work. The Board’s hearing examiner found John in violation based on this evidence. The hearing examiner recommitted John to state prison because of the violation, earlier parole failure and his previous parole failure from a separate sentence. The hearing examiner also considered John was an identifiable threat because of his unmanageable behavior when the Board diverted him to a parole violator center. John was recommitted to state prison for up to six months. John was transported to the designated SCI to serve his time.


So what happened to John?

John followed the rules while in the SCI and remained eligible for automatic reparole. John was automatically reparoled in six months. He signed his release orders and left prison. John reported to his designated parole district office within 24 hours of his release. The Board’s prior conditions of parole still applied to John. John served the remainder of his court-imposed sentence and successfully maxed out his sentence on May 28, 2019.