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Board of Parole

Protecting the Public by Conducting Informed Hearings




Frequently Asked Questions


 

Q: What Is The History Of The Delaware Board Of Parole?

A: The history of the Delaware Board of Parole is as follows:

  • Since 1923, the Delaware Board of Parole has had the full authority to grant parole to adult offenders committed to the state prison system.
  • The earliest written documents of the Board, dated 1937, indicate that the Board consisted of 3 part-time members appointed for 3 year terms by the State Supreme Court, with the Chairman designated by a vote of the members. The Director of Field Parole Services served as Administrator and Field Parole Officers were appointed by the Board.
  • In 1964, the Delaware General Assembly created the Department of Correction and revised the laws relating to the Board of Parole. Parole supervision was transferred to the Department of Correction, Division of Probation and Parole.
  • In 1970, legislation was passed creating a modern 5 member board, with a full-time Chairperson. Oliver W. Casson, the first full-time Chairperson, was appointed by Governor Russell W. Peterson and served in this capacity until his retirement in May 1991.
  • On July 8, 1991, Marlene Lichtenstadter, who was appointed by Governor Michael N. Castle, replaced Mr. Casson as Chairperson. Ms. Lichtenstadter retired in March of 2002.
  • Governor Ruth Ann Minner appointed Dwight F. Holden as Chairperson on July 1, 2002.

 

Q: Who Is On The Board Of Parole?

A: The Board of Parole consists of one full time Chairperson and four part-time members, one from each county and one from the City of Wilmington. All members are appointed by the Governor, and subject to Senate confirmation.
 

Q: How Are The Members Of The Parole Board Chosen?

A: Under current law, the Board of Parole consists of a full-time Chairperson and 4 part-time Members, one from each county and one from the City of Wilmington. The Chairperson, who serves at the pleasure of the Governor, with Senate confirmation, must have experience in the area(s) of probation, parole, and/or other related areas of corrections. The requirement for the part-time membership is a demonstrated interest in correctional treatment or social welfare. Members serve four year terms upon appointment by the Governor and Senate confirmation and may be reappointed.
 

Q: How Does The Parole Board Get Its Authority?

A: Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4343, the Delaware Board of Parole (the Board) is the paroling authority for the State, with responsibilities for deciding parole release, parole revocation and parole supervision level and recommending commutation of sentence to the Board of Pardons. All offenders released upon merit or good behavior credits are considered on conditional release until the expiration of the maximum term(s) for which they are sentenced. All such offenders are subject to return before the Board of Parole as violators of parole or mandatory release and, pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4352, may be returned by the Board to prison to serve the remaining unexpired portion of the term under which they were released.
 

Q: What Can The Board Do?

A: The Board has authority:

  • to issue warrants for the apprehension of parolees or conditional releasees;
  • issue subpoenas requiring attendance of witnesses and production of documents at hearings;
  • approve or modify conditions of parole, conditional release or pre-parole;
  • >issue revocation orders returning parolees or condition releasees to prison to serve the balance of the prison sentence;
  • issue rescission orders to prevent release on parole pre-parole inmates who have been guilty of institutional misconduct or illegal activity.

The Board meets in the prison approximately 36 times each year and must have a quorum of 3 members present to conduct hearings.
 

Q: How Does Parole Work?

A: An offender can be released without detriment to the community or to him/herself; and in the opinion of the Board, parole supervision would be in the best interest of society and an aid to rehabilitation of the offender as a law-abiding citizen. If parole is granted, the individual is released through a controlled release plan which combines the needed supervision level with appropriate treatment.
 

Q: How Is Parole Different From Probation?

A: The differences between Parole and Probation are:

  • Parole is the release of an inmate to community supervision prior to the expiration of a prison sentence. Probation is a judges order suspending all or part of a prison sentence to allow supervision in the community instead of a prison. Only the Parole Board can grant or revoke a parole; only a judge can order or revoke a probation.
  • Offenders eligible for parole consideration may apply 180 days prior to their eligibility date. To be released on parole, the offender must appear before the Board and receive favorable votes from the majority of members present. In the case of the most serious offenses, 4 favorable votes are required for release.
  • Offenders denied parole with no rehearing will be released from prison upon reaching their good-time release date and will be placed under Conditional Release Supervision with the Bureau of Community Custody until the maximum expiration date of the sentence.
  • Offenders on parole or conditional release are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Parole and may be returned by the Board to prison to serve the balance of their sentence if they fail to abide by the conditions of supervision.
  • Offenders serving a Life sentence with parole eligibility who are denied parole with no rehearing will not be released into the community unless they receive a commutation of sentence from the Governor through a recommendation of the Board of Pardons.

 

Q: What Should Victims Know About The Parole Board?

A: Victims and survivors are notified of:

  • time, date and place of the offender’s hearing,
  • their right to give input and
  • their notification (if applicable) of the Board’s decision.

The Parole Board encourages victims and survivors to share their views about the crime and its impact on their lives at hearings, in writing or in meetings with the Victims Input Coordinator.

Contacts by victims and survivors are confidential.

The Board’s Victims Input Coordinator may be reached at (302) 577-5233.

For additional information, contact:
820 North French Street, 5th Floor, Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: (302) 577-5233 Fax: (302) 577-3501
 

Q: Didn’t “Truth In Sentencing” Abolish Parole?

A: Pursuant to the Truth-In-Sentencing Act of 1989, parole was abolished for all offenses committed in Delaware on June 30, 1990, or thereafter.

However, in all criminal cases sentenced in Delaware following the enactment of the Truth-In-Sentencing statute, when the Court imposes an aggregate sentence to Level V (incarceration) in excess of one (1) year, the Board, upon receipt of an application for sentence modification (also called “4217 sentence modifications”) from the Department of Correction, holds a hearing for the purpose of providing the sentencing judge with a recommendation.
 

Q: What Happened When An Offender Applies For Parole?

A: Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4347(a), an offender committed to the custody of the Department who will be eligible for parole within 180 days may apply for a parole hearing on forms supplied by the Board.

Upon receipt of such application, the Board shall notify the Bureau Chief of Adult Correction of the application and request verification of parole eligibility and, if eligible, 6 copies of a progress report containing a carefully evaluated parole plan with recommendations within 30 days.

Upon receipt of the report, the Board shall determine within 30 days if a parole hearing will be scheduled.

If the hearing is denied or if the hearing is held and parole denied the applicant and the Department shall be advised in writing by the Board of the earliest date, not sooner than 6 months for an applicant with a good-time release date of 3 years or less and not sooner than 1 year for an applicant with a good-time release date of more than 3 years, upon which the applicant shall be eligible to again apply for a parole hearing in accordance within this section.
 

Q: Who Is Eligible For Parole?

A: Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4346, the Board may release an offender on parole after one-third of the term imposed by the Court has been served, such term to be reduced by such merit and good behavior credits as have been earned, or one hundred and twenty (120) days, whichever is greater if, in the Board’s discretion, the Board is satisfied that reasonable probability exists that the offender can be released without detriment to the community or to him/her self; and, in the opinion of the Board, parole supervision would be in the best interest of society and an aid to rehabilitation of the offender as a law-abiding citizen.

However, the Board has no duty to consider any offender eligible for parole who has not made an application for parole.

Furthermore, the Board has no obligation to allow an offender eligible for parole to appear before it, even if the offender has applied for parole, and the Department has filed a report recommending parole (11 Del. C. §4347(e)).
 

Q: Are Victims Allowed To Testify Before The Parole Board?

A: Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §9416 (Victims’ Bill of Rights), the Board, in consideration of victim impact at parole hearing, has the responsibility to inform the victim in writing of:

  1. the right of the victim to address the Board in writing or in person; and
  2. the decision of the Board.

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4347(k), the Board has the responsibility to notify the victim at least 30 days prior to a scheduled parole hearing for an inmate convicted of a felony offense.

Because the Attorney General has on file the names and addresses of the victims of the particular offender appearing before the Board of Parole, the Board of Parole may request victim information from the Attorney General or request that the Attorney General notify the victim in cases where this information is not on file in the Board of Parole.

At the time of notification, victims are provided with options for input prior to the hearing. Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4350(a), victims or their representatives shall have priority in making statements before the Board. The decision of the Board will be sent to the victim, unless the victim has not provided his/her address or has requested no notification. With respect to offenders sentenced for Murder, Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide, the immediate family of the victim will be considered the victim.

Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4350(a), the Board has adopted the following rules for hearing oral statements or arguments by persons not connected with the Department of Correction when hearing applications for parole:

(These rules also apply to hearings for sentence modification and sentence commutation consideration):

  1. Individuals wishing to offer presentations to the Board in support or in opposition to an offender’s application for parole must provide documentation of the reason for attending in advance of the hearing. The presentations in support must be relevant to the issue of rehabilitation. The Board has the right to deny access if it is felt that the individual’s request for a presentation does not meet the rehabilitation standard. This rule with respect to advance notice may be suspended upon the majority vote of the Board members present.
  2. Any individual’s statement must not exceed 5 minutes, unless the Board agrees in advance to extend the presentation time. Groups are expected to identify a spokesperson.
  3. The Board restricts the number of individuals attending hearings as follows: For the offender, 5 persons plus the offender’s attorney(s); in opposition, 5 persons plus representative(s) of the State. Employees of the Department of Correction are not included in this restriction. The Board can waive this requirement upon majority vote of the Board members present if written documentation of good cause for the presence of additional persons is presented to the Board at least 1 week before the hearing.
  4. The Board reserves the right to deny admission or continued attendance to individuals who threaten or present a danger to attendees or participants or who disrupt the hearing.

Individuals wishing to present information to the Board should notify the office of the Board at least 1 week prior to the hearing to arrange to be heard or for submission of their information. The Board will accept written statements from any individual having an interest in any application.
 

Q: Are Parole Board Hearings Open To The Public?

A: The Board, in its discretion, holds close proceedings for the following reasons:

  1. to protect ongoing law enforcement investigations, upon written request of the Attorney General or law enforcement agency;
  2. to deliberate upon oral or written arguments received;
  3. to provide opportunity for applicants to challenge confidential information which they believe is detrimental to their application; and
  4. at the request of the victim or the immediate family of the victim.

With respect to (c), an applicant must be able to provide a factual basis for challenging confidential information before the Board would consider closing its proceedings for this purpose.
 

Q: How Can Sentences Be Reviewed For Modification Under Truth-in-sentencing?

A: Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4217, with respect to sentences imposed under the Truth-In-Sentencing Act of 1989 (i.e., crimes committed June 30, 1990, or thereafter), the Department may file an application for sentence modification for “good cause shown which certifies that the release of the offender shall not constitute a substantial risk to the community or himself.”

Upon receipt of the Department’s application showing “good cause,” the Board will schedule and hold a hearing for the purpose of deciding the appropriate recommendation to the sentencing judge or to reject the application, if the Board determines that the offender constitutes a substantial risk to the community or determines that the application is not based on good cause.

No offender sentenced for a Title 11 violent felony shall be eligible until at least one-half of the sentence has been served; no offender serving a Title 11 Mandatory term will be eligible during the mandatory portion of the sentence.
 

Q: How Are Sentences Commuted?

A: Pursuant to the Truth-In-Sentencing Act of 1989, parole was abolished for all offenses committed in Delaware on June 30, 1990, or thereafter.
 

Q: Are Parole Board Records Confidential?

A: Delaware law provides that the Board’s records are privileged and are not to be disclosed. Pursuant to 11 Del. C. §4322.

However, the Court, in its discretion, has authority to determine when it is appropriate to permit the inspection of Board records. This discretion will be exercised only when, in the judgment of the Court, the requesting party has a proper interest therein, and when it is in the best interest of the State, or the welfare of a particular offender makes that action desirable or helpful. Therefore, without a court order, only the following information may be provided, upon proper inquiry by any person:

  1. The offense and the sentence.
  2. The sentencing date, including effective date of sentence, parole eligibility date, short-time release date and maximum expiration date.
  3. The date an offender is scheduled for a hearing before the Board.
  4. The disposition on an offender’s case–whether approved or denied. If approved, the nature of the approval. If denied, the rehearing date, if a date was granted.

Under no circumstances will there be disclosure of how any member of the Board has voted on any case. Reasons for denial will be communicated only to the offender and Department of Correction officials. In cases wherein the Board makes recommendation to the authority having decision-making jurisdiction (i.e., the Court or Board of Pardons), there will be no disclosure of the Board’s recommendation.

An appearance before the Board of Parole by videophone shall be considered to be a personal appearance (Adopted May 18, 1998).


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