The Parole Revocation Process
The 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Morrissey s. Brewer established “due process” requirements for revoking parole, creating an administrative hearing process before a neutral and detached officer. This led to the creation of Hearing Operations in 1980 to provide specialized hearing officers who have the training and understanding of “due process” requirements needed to conduct required hearings. All the information in this section applies to those released on either parole or mandatory supervision
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF HEARING OPERATIONS?
The Board’s Hearing Operations unit administers the parole revocation hearing process by:
- Scheduling hearings;
- Reviewing and acting on requests for legal representation, appointing attorneys when necessary;
- Conducting preliminary and/or revocation hearings;
- Reviewing/processing hearing reports and waiver packets (for those choosing to forego hearings) and making recommendations on the case;
- Handling hearings and extradition matters in out-of-state cases supervised by Texas under the Interstate Compact, and
- Providing a process for reconsidering a revocation decision.
WHAT TYPES OF ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATION HEARINGS MAY BE CONDUCTED?
Parole violators legally may be entitled to both a preliminary hearing and a revocation hearing, or in some cases to just the revocation hearing. A preliminary hearing seeks to determine if probable cause exists to believe an offender violated one or more conditions of parole. If probable cause is found, the revocation hearing may be held. For the Board to revoke an offender's parole or mandatory supervision, a revocation hearing must find a preponderance of credible evidence that one or more parole conditions were violated.
Preliminary and revocation hearings are conducted in two phases. The first (allegation) phase is limited to presenting evidence for alleged violations. The hearing does not proceed to the second phase unless an applicable level of proof is found for at least one violation. The second (adjustment) phase, or mitigation hearing, provides an opportunity to weigh evidence about an offender's adjustment while on parole, such as work history, compliance with required programs and conditions of administrative release and previous violations of parole or mandatory supervision.
HOW DOES THE BOARD MAKE REVOCATION DECISIONS?
Three member voting panels of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles typically review waivers and hearing reports. There are six offices throughout the state, with the hearing location generally determining which panel receives the case. Analysts review the hearings and waivers for presentation to the panel.
WHAT ACTIONS MAY THE PANEL TAKE?
The panel has several options:
- Proceed to a revocation hearing,
- Continue parole or mandatory supervision but transfer the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, or an Intermediate Sanction Facility;
- Continue on supervision, with or without modifying conditions,
- Allow to discharge if the offender is past the discharge date,
- Revoke the parole or mandatory supervision release, and
- Reverse a previous revocation.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF HEARING PARTICIPANTS?
HOW DOES THE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING PROCESS WORK?
Generally, offenders arrested under a Parole Division warrant fall into two categories:
- Those entitled to both preliminary and revocation hearings, and
- Those entitled to a revocation/mitigation hearing only.
At the initial interview, offenders may choose to waive one or both administrative hearings.
Hearings follow these procedures:
Preliminary hearing requested:
After a pre-revocation interview, the parole officer schedules a preliminary hearing and notifies the offender of the date and time.
A hearing officer conducts the preliminary hearing, reviews all information and evidence, and decides whether probable cause exists to believe that a violation occurred.
If probable cause is found for at least one parole violation, the hearing officer will:
- Decide if the case goes to a revocation hearing and gives the offender a choice either to be heard at the revocation hearing or to waive the hearing. If the offender chooses a hearing, it is scheduled at the preliminary hearing and all parties are notified.
- If the offender waives the hearing, or the hearing officer finds the case does not merit a revocation hearing, the hearing officer will forward the waiver or preliminary hearing report to a Parole Panel for disposition. The panel generally will respond by taking one of the following actions:
- Continue the parole or mandatory supervision in a manner warranted by the evidence, which may include transferring the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, or an Intermediate Sanction Facility.
- Direct the case to proceed to a revocation hearing, or
- Revoke the offender’s administrative release status (Only when the revocation hearing has been waived)
Preliminary hearing waived:
- If the hearing is waived at the initial offender interview, the parole officer forwards the waiver with attachments to the Parole Panel for disposition. After reviewing the waiver, a Board Analyst, if there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred, may refer the case to a parole officer to schedule a revocation hearing, or may present the case to a Parole Panel for disposition.
- When a panel receives a preliminary hearing waiver packet, the panel generally takes one of the actions listed above (2a, b or c).
The following procedures are used for offenders entitled to a revocation hearing only:
Revocation hearing requested:
After the initial pre-revocation interview, the parole officer schedules a revocation hearing and notifies the offender of the date and time.
A hearing officer acts as the Board’s representative in conducting the revocation hearing.
The hearing officer reviews all information and evidence to determine if a preponderance of credible evidence exists to believe a violation occurred. If evidence indicates at least one parole violation, the hearing officer moves to the mitigation phase of the hearing.
Within a reasonable time after the hearing, the hearing officer forwards to the Parole Panel a report summarizing the evidence, including all submitted documents. The hearing officer and parole officer each make a recommendation for resolving the case. A Board Analyst, who also makes a recommendation, presents the case to the Parole Panel. The panel disposes of the case by either:
- Continuing the parole or mandatory supervision as warranted by the evidence, which may include transferring the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility or an Intermediate Sanction Facility,
- Directing the case to go to a revocation hearing (only when considering a waiver of the hearing),
- Revoking the offender’s administrative release status, or
- Referring the case back to the hearing officer for further development of factual or legal issues.
If revoked, the supervising parole officer provides the offender a copy of the hearing officer’s report and notice of the right to petition to reopen the hearing.
Waiving the revocation hearing:
If the revocation hearing is waived at the initial offender interview, the parole officer forwards the waiver with attachments to the panel. A Board Analyst reviews the waiver and attachments to decide if a preponderance of evidence shows that a violation of parole or mandatory supervision occurred.
The analyst presents the case to a panel for final disposition. When revocation hearings are waived, the panel will choose one of the options listed in 1-4 above.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE TDCJ-PAROLE DIVISION PLAY?
The TDCJ-Parole Division supervises offenders on parole or mandatory release and issues warrants for offenders who have violated a parole condition. When appropriate, such as with a first-time administrative violator with a valid release plan and no additional criminal violations, the Parole Division may withdraw its warrant and continue supervising the offender, possibly imposing new conditions. The Parole Division also may choose to proceed with the hearing process. In that event, the alleged violation will be considered by the Board.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A WARRANT IS ISSUED?
If an offender is believed to have violated conditions of supervised release, the parole officer submits a violation report. The report determines whether a warrant will be issued. Parole Division officers review the report to determine if probable cause exists. If probable cause is found, a warrant is issued to detain the offender pending an administrative hearing. The warrant is typically published in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and/or the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) fugitives warrant database.
Once an offender is detained on a parole warrant, the sheriff having custody notifies the TDCJ Parole Division, which decides whether to begin the hearing process. If violations are only administrative (no crime involved), or include a conviction for which the offender has discharged the sentence, the hearing is requested. If criminal charges are pending, the Parole Division normally schedules a preliminary hearing and, if probable cause is found, defers the revocation hearing until the criminal charge is resolved.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PAROLE DIVISON ASKS FOR THE HEARING?
Once the offender is detained and Parole Division decides on a hearing, the offender is interviewed by a parole officer. The offender is advised of their rights in the revocation hearing process to:
- be personally served with written notice of alleged parole violations,
- a preliminary hearing unless the offender is accused only of administrative violations or has been convicted of a new criminal offense. The purpose of this hearing is to determine if there is probable cause to believe a condition of release was violated. In some cases, the offender may choose to waive the preliminary hearing,
- a revocation hearing if the offender is alleged to have committed administrative violations or has been found guilty in a criminal case,
- full disclosure of all the evidence against the offender before the hearing,
- hire an attorney and, under certain circumstances, the conditional right to a state-appointed attorney,
- tell the hearing officer in person what happened and to present evidence, affidavits, letters, and documents to support their position, including the right to subpoena witnesses through the parole officer,
- confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (unless the hearing officer finds good cause to deny confrontation),
- be heard on the allegations by someone designated by the Board.
If parole or mandatory supervision is revoked as a result of the hearing, the offender receives a written report by the hearing officer which describes the evidence relied upon in finding a violation. In certain cases, the offender may petition the Board to reopen the revocation hearing.
UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES IS A HEARING REOPENED?
An offender who receives notice that the panel decision is to revoke parole has 60 days from the date of the decision to request a reopening of the case for any substantial error in the process or upon newly discovered information.
Beyond the 60 days, a request to reopen the revocation hearing or to reinstate supervision, only would be considered under exceptional circumstances, such as
- Judicial reversal of a conviction where the criminal offense was an underlying factor in the revocation decision,
- Judicial order requiring a hearing, or
- If parole was revoked without a hearing or waiver as required by law.
Requests for reopening must be in writing and delivered to the Board or placed in the United States mail and addressed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Legal Section, P.O. Box 13401, Austin, Texas, 78711.
Upon receiving a request for reopening, the Board either:
- Grants the motion and orders the hearing reopened,
- Denies the motion, or
- Reverses the previous revocation decision.
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL AUTHORITIES AND REQUIREMENTS TO ADMINISTER PAROLE REVOCATION?
Legal authority and requirements for handling parole revocation matters are contained within:
- Texas Government Code, Chapter 508 (Parole and Mandatory Supervision Law),
- Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 42.19 Interstate Corrections Compact,
- Rules of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and
- Applicable Court Rulings.
Additional authority and requirements are mandated in rulings made by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the United States Fifth Circuit Court. Hearing Operations administers the due process requirements outlined in Morrissey v. Brewer. The1973 Supreme Court decision in Gagnon v. Scarpelli provided further clarification on due process requirements relating to attorney representation