This handbook has been prepared to help you be successful on parole.
Where you live
Preparing to meet your parole officer
Meeting your parole officer
Your case management plan
New arrests, citations, and orders
Incentives for Compliance
WHERE YOU LIVE
An important part of how successful you are during your parole is where you choose to live. Living with the wrong people or in bad situations can affect whether you succeed or fail, so take the time to really think about where you plan to live while on parole and find the most supportive living situation you can. Once you have put together a plan for where you will live, the Division of Parole Supervision will need to investigate this choice. Before approving a shared residence, your parole officer will need to meet with the people where you plan to live. They must agree to the Division of Parole Supervision (DPS) being able to search the residence at any time. Additionally, they must agree to have no alcohol or drugs in the home. If you are considering an apartment rather than a single-family house as your residence, you should look into whether you can live there under Housing Guidelines. Restrictions will prevent you from living in an apartment that receives Federal or State Aid. If you choose to reside in a controlled access building, you need to provide your officer with the access code. The Division of Parole Supervision will only investigate one residence plan at a time so consider all your choices and restrictions before you provide your plan for where you will be living. You must receive approval from your parole officer before you move to that location. “Living” means that you are at the residence every night sleeping, eating, and carrying on your daily activities. Your officer may allow you to stay at another location for short periods, but your officer must approve this BEFORE it happens.
Your officer is required to visit the location that you will call home before your parole. Make sure that if there will be other people also at the same address where you intend to live, that they know that if an officer comes to the home, they should let the officer in. We want to make sure that you are complying with your conditions and that nothing at this address is setting you up for failure. This is easiest to do when everyone is willing to cooperate with the officer. If the officer misses you when visiting your residence, he or she will leave a card and/or instructions for you. It is important that you contact the officer as soon as you get this card or any letter of instructions that may be included.
PREPARING TO MEET YOUR PAROLE OFFICER
On the day of your release, you must report to your assigned parole officer, unless you have made other arrangements directly with your assigned parole officer or a parole supervisor. You should dress appropriately. No baggy or sagging pants, gang related clothing, or hats will be allowed. Avoid bringing back packs or unnecessary items to the parole office. Clothes should be as clean and neat as possible.
MEETING YOUR PAROLE OFFICER
You can expect your parole officer to:
Treat you with respect and dignity.
Be fair and impartial.
Be available to you by phone or in person within reason.
Come prepared to talk to your officer about what is happening with you. If you do not bring the necessary paperwork to your meeting, you may be asked to leave and gather what is needed and return. Your officer will want certain information and documents from you each time you see him or her.
Bring the following things:
- A current identification card or driver’s license.
- Proof of a new address if you are reporting one.
- A current check stub, social security check stub, or other proof of employment.
- Verification that you are attending treatment such as signed AA/NA cards, certificates, etc.
- Restitution and fine payments or receipts.
- Supervision fees or receipts.
- Any citations, tickets, or summons you have recently received.
Your officer may ask you to bring other information. Bringing proof of anything you are reporting to your officer at this meeting right away may save you from a second trip to get this proof and bring it back. When meeting with your officer, being up front and truthful about challenges or “slips” is better than your parole officer learning about it from another source. Honesty is the best practice. Open communication is important if you want to succeed.
Your officer will give you his/her phone number. Generally, it is best to leave a message when he/she does not answer and he/she will get back to you as soon as possible. Please allow your officer a reasonable amount of time to get back with you. However, if your officer is not working that day, or if it is an emergency and you need urgent help, the Lincoln and Omaha offices have main lines to contact from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday central time. Holidays, nights, and weekends there is a 24-hour EMERGENCY number with an on-call officer who can help you. This number should be used for EMERGENCIES ONLY.
Emergencies would involve a serious illness or death, malfunctioning electronic monitoring equipment, or law enforcement contact/arrest.
Examples of things that are not considered emergencies would be: asking to stay at a friend’s house or traveling out of county for leisure. Please plan ahead because during these times, we want to be available to clients who are experiencing real emergencies, if you call this number for a reason that is not an emergency, you will be told to contact your parole officer on the next working day.
YOUR CASE MANAGEMENT PLAN
At the beginning of your parole term, an assessment is completed to help identify areas in which you need assistance. When you first report to your officer, you will sign a case management plan that you and your officer create together listing the specific measurable goals and objectives you plan to achieve while on parole. Your officer will discuss these with you and ask you for input on how you could best achieve these objectives. You will receive a copy of this document, which you may refer to when you have questions about what you need to be doing. If you do not understand, or if circumstances change, talk to your parole officer so that adjustments can be made to help you accomplish your objectives. You and your parole officer will work as a team to help you reach your goals. Whenever changes are made, you will be a participant in the discussion and you will receive an updated copy.
When you first report to your parole officer, or soon after, your parole officer will complete a risk/needs assessment with you. This risk/needs assessment tells your parole officer what level of supervision will be best for you. Your parole officer will reassess you periodically to see how well you are adjusting to the community and how well you are responding to programming. The assessment determines how often you must have contact with your parole officer and what privileges the officer may decide to give you. The score takes into account many things including: employment, new crimes, criminal history, who you associate with, how well you do in treatment, and whether you have used drugs or alcohol during supervision. The best way to make sure your score is correct is by being honest and open with your officer and keeping him/her informed of changes as they occur.
Your conditions of supervision may be that you may not associate with known felons or people who are involved in criminal activity. The same old friends may lead you back to behaviors that you are trying to avoid. It is your responsibility to know whom you are hanging out with and to ensure you are not associating with convicted felons. The best rule is, if you are not sure about someone: do not hang around with them. If there is a situation, in which you have to be around someone who has a criminal record, discuss it with your parole officer. He/she can help you find activities that interest you which do not involve associating with people involved in criminal behavior.
NEW ARRESTS, CITATIONS, AND ORDERS
You must report all new arrests, tickets or contact with law enforcement to your parole officer. Unless you are in jail, do not have someone else call your parole office about law enforcement contact. Your parole officer may have questions about what happened that only you could answer. Additionally, you and your parole officer will want to discuss avoiding similar events in the future. Keep in mind that your parole officer has many ways to learn about your contact with law enforcement. Hearing the truthful story from you first may affect what happens next.
Parole conditions require that you must work unless you have documented health issues or some other special need. If you feel you fit into this category, talk to your parole officer and he/she will let you know what documentation you will need to provide. One of the reasons for this is to avoid financial stress and the problems it can lead to during your parole. Additionally, employment is a great place to make friends who can provide support in other areas of your life. When applying for jobs, honesty with the employer is the best option. Your parole officer can offer you suggestions on how to deal with your criminal record when applying for jobs. Once you have a job, make sure your employer knows that you have to report to your officer when requested. Keep your employer informed of what is going on so they do not get upset if you have to miss work. If you do not have a job, you should work quickly toward gaining employment. You may have heard that no one hires convicted felons. It is not true. Many employers will hire felons, especially if you are honest and up front with them. Many employers want to help you get back on your feet. If you are having trouble finding employment, ask your parole officer for help. He/she can steer you toward employers we have worked with in the past.
Your officer will verify your employment. Your officer may come to your job so let your boss know, and asking him/her the best time for the parole officer to come will keep the lines of communication open. Your parole officer may ask for copies of your pay stubs, so keep them so they are available to provide.
The Parole Board or your officer may order you to attend programming to address things such as drug/alcohol use, anger, and/or parenting skills. When you are sent to programming, it is important that you attend regularly. Missing classes can lead to being dismissed from the program, which may result in a violation. Some programs charge a fee for you to attend. You must pay the fee each time you go or arrange to pay the fee over time. If you complete the program but owe money, the provider may not give you the proof needed to satisfy your conditions of supervision. You have not completed the treatment until your officer receives documentation.
You may have situations arise that your officer is not aware of, such as clothing, medical or food needs; family challenges, or cultural barriers. Talk with your officer about what you need. A list of community resources that address all kinds of situations can be obtained from your officer.
Your parole officer must approve travel outside of your county of residence prior to leaving. Travel outside the state of Nebraska requires a written travel permit approved by the Board of Parole. Unless it is an emergency, travel permits should be requested no less than one week in advance. To obtain a travel permit, contact your parole officer immediately with information on where you are going; whom you are going with; how you will get there; where you will stay; when you are leaving; and when you will return. Your parole officer will review the request and consider your stability while under parole supervision. If you are not doing the things you are supposed to, the parole officer may decide that you cannot travel. If you are not current on programming fees or electronic monitoring fees your request will be denied. If there is an emergency requiring immediate travel such as death of a family member or court appearances, contact your parole officer. After confirming the emergency, your parole officer will determine if it meets override criteria and may waive all or part of the advanced notice needed for a travel permit.
You may be drug tested at any time while under supervision. The best way to prepare for a test is to BE CLEAN. While some people think there are great ways to “beat” a drug test, there is none. The time it takes any drug to leave your body depends on many variables that you cannot control such as weight and metabolism. Your officer is trained to know when someone is “cheating” on a test. This type of activity is a violation of the conditions of your supervision. When you are scheduled to meet with your officer, always be prepared to submit to a drug test. Failure to produce a urine specimen after two hours can have serious consequences.
You may be required to pay fees and other money based upon your court order or parole certificate. These include a $25 programming fee, restitution, past programming fees or cost of return fee, electronic monitoring, and drug testing fees. The fees that you must pay will be clearly outlined in your conditions of supervision document and your officer will review your payment of fees with you. There is an online payment option by going to – http://ne.gov/go/parole. There is a small fee but it is less in most cases than the cost of a money order. You have two options to add email addresses when you make that payment online. A suggestion is using one of those address options to fill in your parole officer’s email address and he/she will be alerted that your payment is made and your fees are staying current. The Division of Parole Supervision does not accept cash or checks.
INCENTIVES FOR COMPLIANCE
If you complete your required conditions of supervision and do well under supervision, there are rewards for positive behavior. Incentives may include the following:
Reduced reporting requirements.
Lower levels of supervision such as quarterly reporting.
Removal of supervision conditions, for example curfew.
Certificates of achievement.
Restoration of good time lost.
If there is a violation of the conditions of supervision, there will be sanctions and/or interventions. While incarceration is a possible sanction, there are other ways we can continue to work with you in the community. Your parole officer will always consider all circumstances in making a recommendation, including your safety and the safety of the public. Some possible interventions are:
- Verbal warning.
- Being placed on curfew.
- Increase in reporting requirements.
- Community service hours.
- Electronic monitoring.
- Custodial Sanctions. (Time in jail)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Can I move to another area of Nebraska?
A. Any request to move to another area of Nebraska will need to be discussed with your parole officer. If your parole officer is supportive, then you will need to provide a residence plan so it can be investigated. You will not be allowed to move unless the residence plan is approved.
Q. Can I move to out of Nebraska to another state?
A. Any request to move to another state will need to be discussed with your parole officer. The Interstate Compact allows clients to transfer to other states if approved. All transfers are subject to acceptance by the state where you are wishing to move. If your parole officer is supportive, you will need to provide a residence plan so your parole officer can submit a request on your behalf. The state where you wish to move has 45 days to decide if they approve this relocation. If there is an emergency, talk to your parole officer as there may be an option to allow you to be in that state while the Transfer Request out of Nebraska is being considered.
Q. May I reside with someone in my family or household who is a convicted felon?
A. You will need to discuss this with your parole officer. Sometimes this can be allowed when it appears to be in your best interest; when it appears that the plan will be stable; and when the person you want to live with appears to have made changes in his/her lifestyle.
Q. Can I go to a restaurant that serves alcohol?
A. Yes, as long as that restaurant’s primary business is not alcohol and you do not consume alcohol. Other restrictions may be applied on a case-by-case basis. Talk to your parole officer about a location you are considering going to and he/she will be able to tell you if it is acceptable.
Q. What if someone in my home uses or possesses alcohol?
A. Alcohol is not allowed in the home as stated in the parole conditions.
Q. What if I sometimes live at home and sometimes with a friend or other family member?
A. You must live full-time at only one residence unless permission is obtained from your officer. Prior approval must be obtained for any overnight stays outside your residence.
Q. Can I ride to the Parole Office/treatment/work with another convicted felon?
A. Prior permission must be obtained from your officer.
Q. Will being around someone who uses drugs cause my drug test to be positive?
A. No. A “contact high” will not put the drug in your system. Sexual contact with someone who is using or has used drugs recently does not transfer the drug to your system; however, being with someone who is using places you at risk for relapse and this is a topic you should discuss with your sponsor, parole officer or other person who wants to help you succeed.
Q. Can I take over the counter/non-prescription medications?
A. Yes, when they are used in accordance with the proper dosage as listed on the label. When performing a drug test, ALL medications should be reported to the officer, prescribed or not.
Q. Can I own a gun, bow and arrow or pocket knife?
A. No. It is against the law to own, use, or possess a dangerous weapon. All work items should stay at work such as carpenter knives and similar items. If in doubt, do not carry it with you and ask your officer.
Q. Can I be discharged early?
A. You may request to have lost good time restored provided it is not non-restorable. The Board of Pardons must grant any other early release according to its policies and procedures. Otherwise you will be discharged on your Earned Discharge Date (EDD). Your parole officer will be able to tell you what that date might be. If your parole is revoked, you will go back to your Tentative Release Date (TRD).
Q. What if I have a disagreement or concern regarding my Parole Officer?
A. Feel free to discuss this directly with your parole officer. If you cannot resolve the issue with your officer, you may talk with a supervisor.
In conclusion, parole is earned and is not a right. Your officer can help you successfully transition into the community. He or she would rather help you than arrest you. Being open and honest with your parole officer about what is really happening will assist your parole officer in steering you in the right direction to be successful. We want to HELP you put the pieces together to be successful.