Protecting the Public by Conducting Informed Hearings
The Delaware Board of Parole has absolute authority to grant parole to eligible adult prison offenders whose crimes were committed prior to June 30, 1990. According to statute, a parole may be granted only when, 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. The Board also has statutory authority to recommend commutation of sentence to the Board of Pardons and modification of sentence to the Courts.
Parole in Delaware was abolished under the Truth-In-Sentencing Act, effective with crimes committed June 30, 1990, or thereafter. Individuals sentenced under this Act, however, may be heard before the Board of Parole, upon application by the Department of Correction, for sentence modification consideration. If, in the opinion of the Board, a good cause for modification has been presented, the Board will forward a favorable recommendation to the sentencing judge.
For eligible inmates sentenced prior to the Truth-In-Sentencing Act, the factors used to determine parole release include prior criminal and motor vehicle violation history or history of domestic violence, the nature of and time served on the current offense, rehabilitative efforts, residence and employment plans and input from the community, the police and the Department of Justice.
Individuals granted parole are released through a Controlled Release Plan which combines the needed supervision level intensity with appropriate treatment.
Parole differs from Probation: Parole is the release of an inmate to community supervision prior to the expiration of a prison sentence. Probation is a judge’s 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.
The Board of Parole consists of a full-time Chairperson and 4 part-time members, 1 from each county and 1 from the City of Wilmington. All members are appointed by the Governor. Appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
In addition to the authority cited above, 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.
Offenders eligible for parole consideration may apply 180 days prior to their eligibility date. To be released on parole, the offender must have appeared before the Board and have received 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.
Victims and survivors are notified of time, date and place of the offender’s hearing, their right to give input and of the Board’s decision.
The Parole Board encourages victims and survivors to share their views about the crime and its impact 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.