Parole hearings for incarcerated individuals serving committed sentences in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, when people are convicted of a crime (or crimes) and sentenced to either the House of Corrections, there are many factors that determine if and when the person becomes "parole- eligible." First, Massachusetts law permits the court to impose parole- eligible sentences for any crime except first- degree murder. This does not mean that in each individual's case, though, parole is a possibility; this will all depend on the specific criminal statute(s) under which the defendant has been convicted, and then the structure of the sentence imposed by the court.
For example, if a defendant is convicted for a crime that carries a mandatory- minimum
house of corrections or state prison sentence, then the court/ judge cannot impose any sentence less that that mandatory- minimum sentence, nor may the defendant be released on parole or with "good time" credit any earlier than the full term of that mandatory- minimum statutory sentence.
If a person is convicted in superior court for a crime that carries a minimum- mandatory statutory prison sentence of 5 years, and the court order the person to serve a sentence of 6 to 8 years in state prison, then here's what's at play:
* The court has ordered that the inmate may be considered for parole after serving 6 years of the sentence, and in no case shall the inmate serve any more than 8 years for the sentence.
* The inmate may earn "good time" by participating in programs/ and or working while incarcerated. This will often depend on the availability of programs and jobs at the particular institution where the person is incarcerated. Generally, if the person participates regularly in such programs and/ or work, then he/ she can have up to 1/3 of his/ her sentence "shaved off" that minimum 6 year prison sentence.
* Because the statute under which the inmate was convicted carries a 5 year minimum- mandatory sentence, then even if he/ she participates in programs/ work that would otherwise have shaved 1/3 off the minimum 6 year sentence allowing for parole consideration, the minimum- mandatory will still not permit parole consideration until at least 5 years has been served.
If the court imposes a 3 years to 3 years and 1 day prison sentence, for example, then parole isn't applicable, since there isn't an actual sentencing "range" of a minimum and maximum that would require a parole board hearing once the minimum term has been served. Absent any statutory minimum- mandatory that must be served, the inmate could still earn "good time" and potentially be out in as early as 2 years.
If a person is sentenced to the House of Corrections in either then district or superior court, then parole- eligibility generally begins once half of the court- imposed sentence has been served. If the person is not granted parole, then he/ she will still be released prior to to the expiration of the full sentence if he/ she earns good time reductions, which may be accrued at up to 10 days per month, so again, up to 1/3 of the actual sentence may be shaved off from what the inmate actually serves.
If a person is sentenced to a committed sentence of 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, for a crime that carries an 18- month minimum- mandatory sentence, then the person's first eligibility for parole consideration will be upon completion of 18- months, rather than half time (15 months). Even if the person is denied parole, he/ she may still EARN time off the 2.5 year sentence, up to 10 days per month, by participating in programs or work, to EARN the right to be released as early as after serving 20 months of that 30 month sentence.
Our representation of individuals at parole hearings generally includes a full review of the case file, obtaining court client's medical and mental health records, department of correction (DOC) records, and the parole board records, including the recording of any prior parole hearings for our client. We often enlist the services of clinical social workers and other professionals to help prepare a proposed release plan for the board's consideration, and we'll talk to all relevant family members to assist in our preparation. We will help walk our client through the process, and prepare him/ her for the hearing, as the most important part of the hearing will our client's answers to the lengthly, difficult, and very personal questions of our client. The board will not grant parole
unless it is overwhelmingly convinced that the inmate recognizes the conduct that put him/ her behind bars, he/ she has taken steps to improve him/ herself (a unique road for each individual person), and that there is an available release plan that will not the community in danger.
If you are seeking an experienced attorney to represent an inmate through the parole hearing process, contact Urbelis Law immediately.
(617) 830- 2188