Overview

In behalf of the Board members and Board staff as well as the people of the State of Montana, I welcome you to the Board of Pardons and Parole website.  The site is designed to provide valuable, easy-to-use information and to respond to questions about the Board and the critical work it does. 

Parole and Executive Clemency are privileges, not rights, earned by prisoners or individuals convicted of crimes. The Board’s primary responsibility in making decisions is public safety. The law states the board may release any person committed to prison when the Board believes the person is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding citizen and when the Board believes the prisoner can be released without detriment to the prisoner or to the community.

During the past five years, the Board has released 2,760 offenders to parole supervision. In that same time, 1007 paroled offenders have successfully completed their sentences in the community. The Board has historically approved parole for nearly six out of every 10 offenders that have appeared before them requesting release.

The Board, as part of the criminal justice system, is doing its part by following the appropriate laws, releasing deserving offenders to community placements, and keeping undeserving or dangerous prisoners incarcerated.  The Board also promptly returns to custody offenders not willing to abide by the conditions of their release.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to write, email, or phone our office.

Current Parole Board Members

Name
Occupation
Appointed
Expires
Patricia Iron Cloud Retired - Enrolled Tribal Member (Fort Peck) 4/11/2016 1/1/2020
Bill McChesney Retired 3/1/2015 1/1/2019
Mark Staples Attorney - Chairman 1/1/2015 1/1/2019
Sandy Heaton Licensed Mental Health Professional 3/1/2014 1/1/2018
Coleen Magera Attorney 5/1/2013 1/1/2017
Mary Kay Puckett Consultant 5/1/2013 1/1/2017

All members must have training in American Indian culture and problems.

Members serve until such time as they are replaced or reappointed.

Board Members Re-Appointed and Appointed

Ms. Patricia Iron Cloud was appointed to the Board of Pardons and Parole by Governor Bullock, effective April 11, 2016.  Ms. Iron Cloud retired from the Tribal Health Department and was the past Vice Chair of the Fort Peck Tribes.  Ms. Iron Cloud fulfills the requirement of an enrolled tribal member.

Mr. Mark Staples was appointed to the Board of Pardons and Parole by Governor Bullock, effective January 1, 2015.  Mr. Staples is an attorney and replaces Mr. Michael McKee.

Mr. Bill McChesney was appointed to the Board of Pardons and Parole by Governor Bullock, effective March 1, 2015.  Mr. McChesney served four two year terms in the Montana House of Representatives after retiring from the Montana Department of Transportation.  Mr. McChesney replaces Mr. John Rex.

Staff

Name Position Years of Experience
Kristy Cobban Executive Director 10
 - VACANT - Senior Parole Board Analyst  
Christine Slaughter Parole Board Analyst 10
Shannon Mahoney Parole Board Analyst 8
Michael Webster Parole Board Analyst 19
Meaghan Mulcahy Parole Board Analyst 12
Jessica James Multimedia Analyst 1
Cathy Leaver Administrative Specialist 28
Lisa Wirth Administrative Assistant 11
Michelle Oliver Filing Secretary 14
Dotsie Shaffer Receptionist 11

The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole accredited by the American Correctional Association

The Montana Board was first accredited by the ACA on January 22, 2001. At that time, there were only three other Parole Boards with this distinction in the nation.  The original certificate encompassed three years, at which time the Board was required to renew it's request for continued accreditation. The Montana Board was re-accredited in January 2004, January 2007, January 2010, January 2013, and January 2016.

We are proud to say the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole has been re-accredited for the years 2016-2019. The process of having your peers evaluate what you are doing within the field and then having them find your work is outstanding by definition of the Accreditation Standards is rewarding. The Board wishes to thank all staff for their hard work in making this happen. Ultimately,  it is the citizens of the State of Montana that benefit by knowing the Parole process in Montana is working well. The new report on accreditation is available below.

In presenting the award, Elias Diggins, Chairperson of the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, and Bridget Bayliss-Curren, Director of Standards and Accreditation, complimented the facility on their professional level of operation and their success in completing the accreditation process.  Standards set by ACA reflect practical up-to-date policies and procedures and function as a management tool for agencies and facilities throughout the world.  A copy of the letter, as well as the full report, is attached below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana Board of Pardons and Parole Accreditation Letter and Report 2016

Parole

Parole is the release of an inmate into the community prior to the completion of sentence, subject to the orders of the Board of Pardons and Parole and the supervision of the Department of Corrections. The Parole Board is an independent agency and exercises its quasi-judicial and policy-making functions without the approval or control of the Department of Corrections. The Board acts somewhat like a Judge when making parole decisions and generally does so without review. The primary concern of the Board is the protection of the public. It is also important to note the Board members are not state employees, but are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They do not receive a salary but are reimbursed for expenses.

The purpose of parole is wide-ranging. Most offenders, even those serving life sentences, will have a lawful date for parole eligibility. There must be a way to reintegrate those offenders back into society. Parole is a proven method for the re-entry of incarcerated offenders into society. The need to earn parole motivates offenders to address problems that contributed to their criminal behavior. Parole is the public's last line of defense against the early release of unsuitable serious offenders. The Board of Pardons and Parole takes into account a multitude of factors when each inmate is considered for parole, in an effort to assess and manage risk.

The mission of the correctional policy of the State of Montana is to: a) punish each offender commensurate with the nature and degree of harm caused by the offender; b) protect the public by incarcerating violent offenders and serious repeat offenders; c) provide restitution, reparation, and restoration to the victims' of the offense; and d) encourage and provide opportunities for the offender’s self-improvement.

Executive Clemency

The Board is also responsible for Executive Clemency for the State of Montana. This includes both pardon and commutation of sentence. The Board has provided the application on this website for interested parties to print, sign and send in for consideration of clemency. (You must have Adobe Acrobat to obtain form)

Executive Clemency Application

Applications must be in writing, signed by the applicant, and filed with the Executive Director of the Board of Pardons and Parole. Applications may be filed only by the person convicted of the crime, by the inmate's attorney acting on the person's behalf and with consent, or by a court-appointed next friend, guardian, or conservator acting on the applicant's behalf. Unless the Board orders otherwise or there has been a substantial change in circumstances, as determined by the Board, a person may not reapply for Executive Clemency.

Budget Information

The Parole Board in Montana is a citizen's board. They are not paid Correctional employees. They volunteer their time and are paid $75.00 per day for each day they conduct Board business. They also have some expenses reimbursed. The total budget for Board members reimbursement per year is approximately $49,833.00. The entire budget for the Board of Pardons and Parole is approximately $1,010,853.00 for the current fiscal year. This includes the salaries of the 11 employees.

Factors in Parole Decisions:  (criteria)

The Board has designated certain factors as important when considering a person for parole. They will determine the following:

  1. If the inmate can be released without being a detriment to him/herself or community.
  2. If the best interests of society are furthered.
  3. If the inmate is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding citizen.
  4. If continued correctional treatment would substantially enhance the inmate's capacity to lead a law abiding life.

The Board will not parole an inmate if there is a substantial reason to believe the inmate will engage in further criminal conduct or will not conform to specific conditions of parole.

A. HISTORY

  1. Education, training, occupational skills, and employment history.
  2. Past use of narcotics or habitual excessive use of alcohol.
  3. Circumstances of the offense for which the inmate is serving a sentence.
  4. Criminal record, including nature of crimes, how recent, and frequency.
  5. Behavior and attitude while previously supervised on probation or parole.

B. PRISON RECORD

  1. Attitude toward law and authority.
  2. Institutional conduct, including disciplinary reports.
  3. Work evaluations and work history.
  4. Utilization of treatment opportunities.
  5. Utilization of vocational and educational opportunities.
  6. Maturity, stability, and behaviors consistent with the general population.
  7. Noticeable attitude changes since incarceration.
  8. Mental or physical makeup; for instance, physical and emotional status.