Criminal Law

Why Hire an Attorney for an Arkansas Parole Hearing?

The Arkansas Board of Parole (the Parole Board), reviews thousands of cases per year.  Most of these cases are decided by a few documents and a brief hearing (5 to 10 minutes).

Your loved one is a person, a person that deserves a second chance.  Reading about a bad decision or period of life problems and a few minutes of discussion may be the only opportunity the Arkansas Board of Parole has to consider if they will grant parole.  Someone should be present to show the PERSON behind the ADC inmate number.

There is another story to tell, one that presents your loved one as the person they have become, the skills that will help them succeed and the family and friends that are waiting to help them be successful.  This story needs to be heard and it needs to be effective.

If you or a family member are facing a parole hearing, our team can prepare an effective case on your behalf.  Contact us as soon as possible, so we can work together to build an effective story.

In the meantime, here is a review of the Arkansas Parole Hearing process, from the Arkansas Parole Board’s view.  You can see there are many obstacles and opportunities for failure and improvement. We’ve pointed out a few spots in italics.

Note, the Arkansas Board of Parole Policy Manual states “Attorneys will be offered preference to be moved to the top of the docket.”  One more reason to consider hiring an attorney.

Release Hearing Preparation

The inmate receives written notice of the hearing before a personal interview with the Institutional Release Officer (“IRO”) at their unit. This interview is to

(1) notify the inmate of the hearing,

(2) have the inmate sign:

  • A Notice of Hearing (so they are aware of the hearing)
  • A waiver of the hearing (if they don’t want a hearing),
  • A deferral of consideration (if they want the hearing to occur later).

(3) for the IRO to review the inmate’s parole plan (what the inmate will do when released)

A parole plan should be completed BEFORE potential hearing dates.

(4) provide any Form 153’s

These are recommendations from sheriffs, judges, and prosecuting attorneys.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney to counter negative 153’s can be an important factor in success

(5) to answer the inmate’s questions about parole.

Before the hearing, Institutional Release Services staff will prepare the State’s parole file.

The State must follow certain procedures and the file MUST have specific documents and information.  Our team will review and question whether the process was followed.

The parole file must have:

  1. A voting worksheet for the Board members,
  2. A summary of the State’s file
  3. A Field Report from a Parole Officer
  4. All required legal notices

Do you know what is needed or if anything is missing?

  1. Results of a validated risk/needs assessment
  2. Victim notification information, if required
  3. Form 153 responses from prosecutors, judges, etc.)

Remember, your responses to 153 issues are important.

  1. Support and protest correspondence, if any,

Our attorneys will help build effective support statements.

  1. Prior Boot Camp or parole violation warrants, reports, transcripts, and
  2. Parole plan.

Your parole plan is critical, and we can help you build an approvable plan.


The Parole Hearing

Board members receive the file prior to the hearing, for review and use during the hearing.

Your 5-minute hearing may seem like the first time the file has been reviewed.

State law prohibits staff from releasing State criminal justice records to inmates.

When confidential information is used for a decision, the Board member should tell the inmate that confidential information is being used.  Was confidential information used?

Each inmate may invite a representative to attend and speak on his/her behalf at the Board hearing.

There is no limit to the number of visitors an inmate may invite to the hearing.  Visitors are not required to be on the inmate’s Visitation List but must be eligible to be on the List.

The Board may limit presentations to just one visitor in addition to the inmate or their representative.

In most cases, only one visitor has a chance to speak because the hearings are brief.


Decision Criteria

Release or discretionary transfer may be granted to an eligible person by the Board when, in its opinion, there is a reasonable probability that the person can be released without detriment to the community or him/herself.

The Board must consider a list of specific factors when a determination is made.

An experienced attorney will review and prepare your case to ensure these factors were considered and your side of the story was presented effectively.

Most Arkansas parole hearings are conducted without attorney involvement and showing up without an attorney rarely, if ever, improves the outcome.  Our attorneys are experienced at developing compelling stories that present people as-a-whole, not a conviction record and administrative paperwork

When a second chance is at stake, it is time to present the story of a person, not a number.  The team at wh Law | We Help is honored to help write that story. Please contact us today if you or a loved one are facing a parole hearing.

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