GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS AND OVERVIEW
This information is intended to assist you, the inmate, and your family and friends, in preparing for parole.
Any questions concerning the parole process that are not addressed here, may be presented to the Board of Parole (“Board”) at the time of your next scheduled Board Review or Parole Hearing, or you may write to the Board at:
Nebraska Board of Parole
PO Box 94754
Lincoln, NE 68509
Any questions or inquiries about the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services’ (“NDCS”) Rules and Regulations should be addressed to NDCS, and not the Nebraska Board of Parole.
CONTENTS / QUESTIONS
What is Parole?
Does an inmate apply for Parole?
What is the Board’s process for determining Parole?
What are the Board Review procedures?
What does the board consider when determining whether to schedule a parole hearing or to defer to another review?
What if a life sentence is being served?
When can the inmate apply to the board for community-based programs (work detail or work/educational release)?
When will the inmate be scheduled for a parole hearing?
What is the purpose of a parole hearing and who may appear?
How does the inmate complete a parole program while incarcerated?
What are the guidelines for an acceptable parole program?
What does the board consider in granting, deferring, or denying a parole?
When will the inmate be notified of the board’s decision regarding the hearing?
Can the inmate appeal the board’s decision rendered at the parole hearing?
How soon will the inmate be released after a parole is granted?
How does an inmate parole out-of-state?
What if the inmate has a detainer?
Can the inmate be paroled to a detainer?
Who does the inmate report to upon release?
What are the conditions of parole?
What happens if the inmate absconds from parole supervision?
When will the inmate be discharged from parole?
WHAT IS PAROLE?
Parole is a privilege that may be granted to an inmate, which allows him or her to serve a portion of the court-imposed sentence under supervision in the community.
Parole may be granted when all statutory requirements have been met. Parole may be granted only after it is determined by the Board that it is in the best interest of society; that it will not depreciate from the seriousness of the crime; that it will not promote disrespect for the law; and that it will further enhance the inmate’s desire for successful re-entry.
Parole does not release the inmate from the court-imposed sentence. Parole provides the inmate with an opportunity to complete the sentence under supervision in a community setting or to begin satisfying any outstanding detainers.
The purpose of Parole is to protect the rights of society and to provide assistance to the parole inmate in returning to his or her community. A period of supervised release in the community allows for the Division of Parole Supervision (“DPS”) to work alongside a parole inmate to identify potential risk factors and address inmate needs, which greatly enhances an inmate’s ability to become a productive, law-abiding citizen.
DOES AN INMATE APPLY FOR PAROLE?
No, an inmate does not apply for parole. Regardless of an individual’s parole eligibility date, Parole is a discretionary decision on the part of the Board. Parole may be granted to those inmates who exhibit positive growth and development by addressing the nature of their crime(s), by participating in recommended programming or in vocational / educational programs, and following the NDCS Disciplinary Rules and Regulations.
WHAT IS THE BOARD’S PROCESS FOR DETERMINING PAROLE?
- Board Review. This first meeting with 2 or more members of the Board will take place at or around 3 years before an individual’s parole eligibility date. If an individual is parole-eligible upon entering the NDCS system, the Board Review will be set for two months after arriving at NDCS to allow for classification and programming recommendations to be completed.
- Key Review. When an individual is within 2 years of his or her parole-eligibility date, the Board will conduct a Key Review. At a Key Review, if the Board Decision Guidelines are completed, the Board may set an individual for a parole hearing if it is the opinion of the Review team that the individual is “reasonably likely to be granted parole.” If the decision is made to set an individual for a hearing, that hearing can be scheduled up to 2 years in advance.
- Informal Interview. If a hearing is scheduled more than 1 year in advance, the Board will see the parole candidate at an Informal Interview within 1 year after the Key Review. The Informal Interview allows the Board to monitor the progress of the individual who has a hearing set. These are important meetings for an individual to attend in order to maintain his or her parole hearing status.
- Parole Hearing. The Parole Hearing is a public meeting at which a quorum of the Board will receive information and make a decision whether an individual will be released on parole and what conditions will be put in place.
WHAT ARE THE BOARD REVIEW PROCEDURES?
For a Board Review, the inmate will be seen by at least 2 Board Members, or designated individuals, who will examine statutory factors and make a decision whether the inmate is “reasonably like to be granted paroled.” A Board Review allows the Board and the inmate to interact and discuss the circumstances of the offense; evaluate the institutional progress and conduct of the inmate; make any non-clinical recommendations for programming; ask questions of each other regarding policies, procedures, and requirements, and, importantly, discuss the inmate’s future plans and intentions. The Board will also review all reports available that may include court case histories; social histories; medical, psychological, psychiatric, and mental health reports; and past and present institutional behavior patterns.
Board Reviews are not open to the public. Only the inmate and authorized Board, NDCS or DPS staff may be present at a Board Review.
The Board’s decision will be delivered to the inmate in writing no later than 30 days from the date of the review. If the inmate’s case is not set for a hearing, the Board will provide in writing the reasons for deferring the inmate’s case and the recommendations for correcting deficiencies.
The Board’s decision may not be appealed; however, the Board maintains authority and discretion to reconsider Board Review decisions.
WHAT DOES THE BOARD CONSIDER WHEN DETERMINING WHETHER TO SCHEDULE A PAROLE HEARING OR TO DEFER TO ANOTHER REVIEW?
The Board considers the following factors when deciding whether to schedule an inmate for a parole hearing:
- Parole eligibility date
- Length of sentence
- Nature of offense
- Recommendations of the sentencing judge, county attorney, and law enforcement authorities
- Facts and circumstances of the offense
- Any mitigating and aggravating factors
- Prior criminal record
- Adjustment and performance on prior probations, paroles, and confinements
- Changes in motivation, attitude, and behavior
- Personal goals, description of personal strength and resources, and ability to maintain motivation for law-abiding behavior
- Personal and social history
- Education and training
- Program goals and accomplishments
- Vocational training and work assignments
- Employment history
- Institutional adjustment or behavior
- Personal relationship with institutional staff and other inmates
- Community resources, including tentative parole plan
- Special needs and resources available to meet them
- Psychological, psychiatric, or mental health evaluations and institutional progress report
- Active detainer(s) or notifier(s)
- Any other factors the Board deems relevant
WHAT IF A LIFE SENTENCE IS BEING SERVED?
A life sentence is the minimum sentence for some Kidnapping convictions and for all First Degree Murder convictions. Parole cannot be granted until such time as the sentence is commuted to a definite term of years by the Board of Pardons. To determine the review policy for First Degree Murder convictions and those applicable Kidnapping convictions, consult the Board of Parole Rules available in the legal libraries at all correctional institutions and at https://parole.nebraska.gov/.
Life is the maximum sentence for some Second Degree Murder convictions. Parole eligibility is computed on the statutory minimum sentence. To determine the review policy for Second Degree Murder convictions, consult the Board of Parole Rules available in the legal libraries at all correctional institutions and on the Board's website.
WHEN CAN THE INMATE APPLY TO THE BOARD FOR COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAMS (WORK DETAIL OR WORK/EDUCATIONAL RELEASE)?
The inmate does not apply to the Board of Parole for community based programs. The Board is not involved in the selection of inmates to be placed on the Work Detail Program. Although the Board has the final approval on Work/Educational Release applications, the Board does not initiate the process. Applications for Work/Educational Release are a function of NDCS, based upon their established guidelines and discretion.
Although the Board might prefer some period of community-based programming prior to parole, it is not possible in all cases.
WHEN WILL THE INMATE BE SCHEDULED FOR A PAROLE HEARING?
Once an inmate's minimum sentence has been satisfied, the Board Review team may schedule a Parole Hearing except when the Review team believes the inmate is not reasonably likely to be granted parole because:
- There is substantial risk the inmate will not conform to the conditions of parole;
- Release would depreciate from the seriousness of the crime and promote disrespect for the law;
- Release would have a substantially adverse effect on institutional discipline; or
- Continued correctional treatment, medical care, vocational, or other training in the facility will substantially enhance the inmate’s capacity to lead a law-abiding life when released at a later date.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PAROLE HEARING AND WHO MAY APPEAR?
The purpose of a Parole Hearing is to determine, by a majority vote of the Board, if an inmate should be afforded the opportunity to complete the remainder of a court-imposed sentence under parole supervision in the community, a halfway house, hospital, or other special residence facility.
Parole Hearings are open to the public. Anyone wishing to appear on behalf of, or in opposition to, an inmate’s release on parole is welcome to attend. Those in attendance are invited to come forth, be sworn in, and give testimony.
HOW DOES AN INMATE COMPLETE A PAROLE PROGRAM WHILE INCARCERATED?
Approximately 120 days prior to the scheduled Parole Hearing, the inmate will be interviewed by a parole re-entry officer for the purpose of finalizing the parole program for investigation by a field parole officer. The inmate should seek assistance in developing a program through his/her case manager, family, and/or parole re-entry officer, family and community support.
WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES FOR AN ACCEPTABLE PAROLE PROGRAM?
- The inmate should fully understand and agree to follow the conditions of parole as explained in the certificate of parole.
- The inmate should have an acceptable residence plan. The inmate can live by himself or herself.
- The inmate should have an acceptable employment or educational program. A combination of the two may be considered acceptable, as well as more than one part-time job totaling more than 30 hours per week.
- The inmate should have approved follow-up treatment or counseling as needed for mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Outstanding detainers, warrants, or notifiers must be satisfied prior to being released to community supervision.
WHAT DOES THE BOARD CONSIDER IN GRANTING, DEFERRING, OR DENYING A PAROLE?
By state law, the Board shall make its decision regarding a committed inmate’s release on parole or continued incarceration by taking into consideration each of the following factors:
- Validated Risk Assessment / Parole Board Guidelines.
- The inmate’s personality, including maturity, stability, sense of responsibility, and any apparent development in personality which may hinder conformity to the law;
- The adequacy of the inmate’s parole plan to meet the immediate and continued needs of treatment/rehabilitation;
- The inmate’s ability and readiness to assume obligations and undertake responsibilities;
- Family and associates who will provide close and constructive support in the community;
- Employment history, occupational skills, and the stability of past employment;
- The type of residence, neighborhood, or community in which the inmate intends to live;
- Past history of use/abuse of narcotics and alcohol;
- Mental or physical make-up, including any disability or handicap which may affect a conformity to the law;
- Prior criminal record;
- Attitude toward law and authority;
- Conduct in the institution, including whether or not the inmate has taken advantage of the opportunities for self-improvement, whether there has been involvement in misconduct reports, especially those resulting in a loss of good time since being scheduled for a Parole Hearing or reconsideration for parole release;
- Behavior and attitude during any previous parole or probation;
- The inmate’s institutional progress report and counselor’s recommendation;
- All official reports of prior criminal record, including the pre-sentence investigation;
- Recommendations regarding parole made by the sentencing judge, county attorney, and law enforcement authorities;
- Psychological, psychiatric, or mental health evaluations and recommendations for ongoing treatment;
- Relevant information submitted by the inmate, the inmate’s attorney, the victim of the crime, or any other testimony; and
- Any other factors the Board deems relevant.
WHEN WILL THE INMATE BE NOTIFIED OF THE BOARD’S DECISION REGARDING THE HEARING?
At the conclusion of the Parole Hearing, the Board will verbally inform the inmate of its decision. If the Board denies or defers the inmate’s release on parole, the inmate will be notified in writing of the decision within 14 days of the hearing.
CAN THE INMATE APPEAL THE BOARD’S DECISION RENDERED AT THE PAROLE HEARING?
Yes, the inmate can request the Board reconsider its hearing decision by making a request in writing within seven (7) working days of the Parole Hearing. If the inmate requests a rehearing, be advised that there is currently no provision in the Nebraska Revised Statutes providing for an extension of time in which to file a petition in error sufficient to confer jurisdiction in the Nebraska State Courts if an offender desires to pursue such course of action.
HOW SOON WILL THE INMATE BE RELEASED AFTER A PAROLE IS GRANTED?
Release depends upon the Board’s decision, the inmate’s parole eligibility date, and whether or not the inmate has a complete, verified, and approved parole program. If everything is in order, the inmate will be released as soon as the institutional release process is completed. If the parole program is not complete, the Board may still grant parole subject to acceptance and verification of the proposed program by the Division of Parole Supervision and Services.
HOW DOES AN INMATE PAROLE OUT-OF-STATE?
An out-of-state parole is subject to the Board’s approval and acceptance by the receiving state. Out-of-state parole requires definite procedures as determined by the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender supervision.
If an out-of-state parole is being considered, the inmate must complete an application for interstate services when being interviewed by the case manager prior to a scheduled Parole Hearing. The application must include the exact address of the proposed residence and employment. Processing of interstate applications by the receiving state normally takes 120 days to complete.
Out-of-state requests for parole do not increase the chances for release. All other requirements for parole consideration must be met.
WHAT IF THE INMATE HAS A DETAINER?
If a Nebraska detainer is lodged against the inmate by a law enforcement organization, a disposition may be requested under State Statute 29-1204.
If a federal or out-of-state detainer has been lodged, a disposition may be requested under the Interstate Agreement for Detainers.
All requests should be made through the Detainer Agreement Administrator of the Department of Correctional Services, P.O. Box 94661, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68509.
Paroling to a detainer will not increase the chances for release. All other requirements for parole consideration must be met.
CAN THE INMATE BE PAROLED TO A DETAINER?
The inmate can be paroled to a federal, state, or local detainer that has been filed. The inmate will be turned over to the jurisdiction that filed the detainer, and parole time may run the same as if the inmate were paroled to a regular parole program. If the detainer involves serving a consecutive sentence, field supervision begins when the offender is released from the detaining authorities.
WHO DOES THE INMATE REPORT TO UPON RELEASE?
Upon release from the institution, the inmate is to go directly to the program approved by the Board and report to the assigned parole officer, or other person(s) designated by Division of Parole Supervision and Services. This must be done within 24 hours of being released from the institution, unless other arrangements have been made beforehand.
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF PAROLE?
An inmate’s parole certificate will outline the expectations that must be met in order to maintain parole status. The conditions imposed are based on the validated risk and needs assessments of the inmate and are intended to assist the inmate in successfully reentering the community. Failure to meet and abide by the conditions of parole can result in graduated sanctions up to and including reincarceration.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE INMATE ABSCONDS FROM PAROLE SUPERVISION?
If Parole Supervision staff are unable to locate the inmate within a reasonable amount of time at the approved residence, employment, or education site, this may constitute “Absconding Parole Supervision." A warrant may be issued for the inmate’s arrest and any expense incurred by the State of Nebraska to insure the return and appearance before the Board will be the inmate’s responsibility. Failure to repay this cost during the incarceration could result in denial of future parole consideration.
WHEN WILL THE INMATE BE DISCHARGED FROM PAROLE?
The inmate is discharged from parole upon expiration of the maximum sentence, minus applicable good time. Offenders seeking early discharge must apply to the Board of Pardons. The Board of Pardons may request a recommendation from the Board of Parole regarding a request for early discharge. The Board will only consider making a positive recommendation for early discharge if the parolee has successfully completed one (1) year of parole supervision. The Board of Parole is not obligated to support early discharge in any circumstance.