What Exactly is Parole?
Parole is the conditional release of incarcerated individuals earlier than their sentence under the promise of continued good behavior. In Missouri, paroles are handled by the Division of Probation and Parole under the Missouri Department of Correction. The division has a board with seven full-time members and has the authority under 217.690 (4) RSMo to release prisoners eligible for parole based on their sentence. The Board also has about 40 officers who assist with parole hearings.Paroled individuals serve a portion of their sentence under the supervision of their community. According to the law 217.690 RSMo, the division may grant parole if:
- The inmate has substantially followed prison rules;
- The release would not diminish the seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect for the law;
- The release of such persons would not jeopardize public welfare.
This article helps you understand everything regarding eligibility for Parole in Missouri.
How Does the Board Determine Eligibility for Parole?
The laws of Missouri 217.690 RSMo clearly define the rules for determining whether a person is eligible for parole. The most important factors include the following:
- The length of incarceration
- The crime for which they were convicted
- Whether they are serving an enhanced sentence
Before parole is approved, the person must go through a parole hearing where the Board will determine his eligibility. In most cases, parole hearings are held in prison via teleconference. One Parole Board member and two hearing officers will preside.
Minimum Parole Eligibility in Missouri
The minimum parole eligibility in Missouri is the earliest period someone can be paroled. However, this eligibility period is subject to a hearing to determine if parole would be approved.For example, the minimum parole eligibility for those convicted of drugs, DWI, or non-violent Class C felonies is 15 percent of the sentence served. Those convicted of sexual, violent, or child abuse offenses are not eligible for parole until they have served 33 percent of their sentence. In other cases, such as life sentences of 45 years or more, 15 years must be served, and there is no minimum eligibility date set if the person received multiple life sentences.Some crimes like murder in the first degree do not qualify for parole. However, the laws may present exceptions if the person was under 18 (217.690 RSMo). The following crimes also may not be eligible for parole:
- Persistent sexual offenses
- Tampering with a victim or witness
- Class X offenders sentenced to 25 years or less in prison
What Factors Influence the Eligibility for Parole?
The Board may deny parole if the crime committed is a serious one or if there is a possibility that the person will commit more crimes. Certain crimes, such as those involving weapons or violence, or those that harmed the community, may prevent someone from receiving parole even if they are eligible. The Board can deny parole if a person’s history shows they abuse drugs or alcohol or they are a dangerous or persistent offender. They may also be denied if they did not adjust to prison well or have been arrested multiple times with short periods between arrests. In any of these cases, the person will likely be denied parole and must reapply.Those eligible for parole can apply and attend a hearing based on the sentence and time served. They may also consider hiring a Missouri criminal defense lawyer for help. An attorney can often help the parolee determine what to do to improve their chances and prepare for the hearing.