Victim Information for the Board of Pardons and Parole

Victim Notification Registration form

Victim Information Pamphlet 

Victim Survey 

PAROLE PROCESS

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 paid a per-diem and reimbursed for expenses.

The purpose of parole is multifaceted. Most offenders, even those serving life sentences, may have a lawful date for parole eligibility. 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 and accept responsibility for their actions.

The mission of the correctional and sentencing policy of the State of Montana is to: a) punish each offender commensurate with the nature and degree of harm caused by the offender and to hold an offender accountable; b) protect the public, reduce crime, and increase the public sense of safety by incarcerating violent offenders and serious repeat offenders; c) provide restitution, reparation, and restoration to the victim(s) of the offense; and d) encourage and provide opportunities for the offender’s self-improvement, rehabilitation, and reintegration of offenders back into the community.

PAROLE ELIGIBILITY

Offenders who commit their crimes after 1-31-1997 must serve 25% of their sentence to become eligible for parole unless otherwise ordered by the Court and will be required to serve 100% of their sentence to discharge. These dates are calculated by Prison Records in accordance with State law and the sentence imposed by the Court.

GOOD TIME LAWS

State law mandates -offenders who committed a crime prior to April 13, 1995, must be considered for parole with these guidelines in mind: a non-dangerous offender is eligible for parole after serving ¼ of their sentence less good time earned in prison. The eligibility is further reduced by credited time served in jail prior to sentencing. A dangerous offender must serve ½ of their term with the same credits for good time and jail time. Good time also reduces discharge dates.

Offenders who committed crimes between April 13, 1995, and January 31, 1997, must serve 25% of the sentence to be eligible for parole. Good time and dangerous/non-dangerous designations have been removed; however, inmates will continue to receive 30 days per month good time for discharge purposes.

PAROLE IS A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT

The Parole Board is required to contemplate certain factors when an inmate is considered for parole: All offenders will be interviewed by the Board at their initial hearing. Offenders may voluntarily waive a parole hearing by notifying the Board in writing. After their initial appearance, an offender denied parole may be set for a progress or case review. The offender will not be allowed to appear at this hearing. The Board generally does not release from review violent offenders, sex offenders, or offenders who have had opposition at previous hearings. At the time of the hearing, the Board may receive written statements from interested persons. The Board permits a victim to present a statement concerning the effects of the crime on the victim, the circumstances surrounding the crime, the manner in which the crime was perpetrated, and the victim's opinion regarding whether the prisoner should be paroled. The Board may also include the imposition of restitution as a condition of parole. The Board keeps testimony confidential if requested and articulated in writing.

VICTIM RIGHTS

State law (46-24-201, MCA) requires law enforcement personnel to ensure that a victim of a crime receives information about their rights, including the stages in the criminal justice process of significance to a crime victim and the manner in which information about such stages may be obtained. 46-24-212, MCA, provides other victim rights information. Upon request of a victim of a felony offense, the Department of Corrections or the Board of Pardons and Parole, as applicable, shall:

  • Promptly inform the victim of the following information concerning a prisoner committing the offense: custody level; projected discharge and parole eligibility dates; actual date of the prisoner’s discharge from confinement or parole, if reasonably ascertainable; time and place of a parole hearing concerning the prisoner and of the victim’s right to submit a statement to the board of pardons and parole under 46-23-202, MCA; and the community in which the prisoner will reside after parole release.
  • Provide reasonable advance notice to the victim before release of the offender on furlough or to a work-release program, half-way house, or other community-based program or correctional facility.
  • Promptly inform the victim of the occurrence of any of the following events concerning the prisoner: escape from a correctional or mental health facility or community program; recapture; decision of the Board of Pardons and Parole; decision of the Governor to commute the sentence or grant executive clemency; release from confinement and any conditions attached to the release; and the prisoner’s death.

State law does not require that the Board of Pardons and Parole inform anyone of an inmate's parole eligibility dates, appearances, or release, unless specifically requested in writing to do so by the victim or family. However, the Board does inform all interested parties of upcoming parole hearings when requested and every effort is made to inform the sentencing Judge, county attorney, sheriff, chief of police, and parole office.

VICTIM OBLIGATION

The obligation to inform a victim is contingent upon the victim informing the appropriate agency in writing of the name, address, and phone number of the persons to whom the information should be provided and of any changes in name, address, or telephone number.

Regardless of the sentence, let the county attorney know you want to be notified of an offender’s movement within the criminal justice system. If the person who committed the crime against you or your family is sent to prison, advise the county attorney that you wish to be notified according to your rights and request the forms that the following provide notification:

Montana State Prison
400 Conley Road
Deer Lodge, MT 59722

Montana State Board of Pardons and Parole
1002 Hollenbeck Road
Deer Lodge, MT 59722

Montana Women's Prison
701 S. 27th St.
Billings, MT 59101

If you articulate in writing the reasons to have your correspondence kept confidential, this request can be honored. You can request notification of initial parole dates and appearances, release, movement of the inmate within the system, or any additional parole consideration while the inmate is serving the sentence for the crime of which you were a victim. You may request to appear before the Board to present oral testimony or you may submit written, audio or video testimony.

PAROLE SUPERVISION

When an offender is eligible for parole, it does not mean he/she will be released. As stated earlier, the Board considers a multitude of individual characteristics and circumstances in order to make that decision. These include, but are not limited to: criminal history, prior supervision, nature of the offense, institutional conduct treatment accomplishments, and victim/citizenry input as well as the adequacy of the inmate’s parole plan.

The Board can deny parole and place the inmate on annual, biennial, or extended review. The Board can deny parole and set a date for reappearance. The members can also deny parole and send the inmate to a treatment program in the prison or other appropriate program, or deny early release altogether.

If an inmate is granted parole, he/she is generally not free to leave that day. A paperwork process will follow the Board’s decision and a parole date will not be set until all criteria is complete. The supervising community agent will investigate and approve or deny the proposed plan. The parolee will be required to report regularly to a parole officer, is subject to numerous standard conditions, and may be subject to several special conditions such as: no alcohol or bars; urinalysis testing; ongoing treatment for chemical dependency; sex offender aftercare; or mental health counseling.

In certain circumstances, the Board can impose conditions suggested by the victim such as: no contact with victim or family, travel restrictions, and/or restitution. The Board can also mandate the Intensive Supervision or Enhanced Supervision Programs. If a parolee becomes a risk or violates parole conditions, the Board can recommit the offender and assure continued incapacitation through detention. If you have problems with a parolee, you have every right to contact the parole office or police nearest you and request assistance.

Standard Parole Conditions:

  1. RESIDENCE: Your residence must be approved by your PO. You shall not change your place of residence without first obtaining permission from your PO. You will make your home open and available for an officer to visit or search upon reasonable suspicion. You will not own dangerous/vicious animals such as guard dogs, use perimeter security doors or any other device that would hinder an officer, or refuse to open the door to your residence when requested.
  2. TRAVEL: You shall not leave your assigned district without first obtaining written permission from your PO.
  3. EMPLOYMENT: You shall seek and maintain employment or a program approved by the Board of Pardons and Parole or your PO. You must obtain permission from your PO prior to any change of employment. You must inform your employer of your status on probation, parole, or other community supervision.
  4. REPORTING: You are required to personally report to your PO as directed. You must submit written monthly reports on forms provided. You will make yourself available to your PO as requested.
  5. WEAPONS: You shall not use, own, possess, transfer or be in control of any firearms, deadly weapons, or ammunition, including black powder, as defined by state or federal law. You will not possess chemical agents such as O.C. or pepper spray.
  6. FINANCIAL: You must obtain permission from your PO before financing or purchasing a vehicle, real property or engaging in business. You will not go into debt without your officer's permission. Victim restitution, child support, fines and fees will be your priority financial obligations.
  7. SEARCH: Upon reasonable suspicion, as ascertained by the PO, you, your vehicle, and/or residence may be searched at any time, day or night, without a warrant by a PO, ISP officer or a law enforcement officer (at the direction of the PO or ISP officer). You may also be searched at your place of employment. Any illegal property or contraband will be seized and may be destroyed.
  8. LAWS & CONDUCT: You shall comply with all city, county, state, and federal laws and ordinances, conduct yourself as a good citizen, and report any arrests or contacts with law enforcement to your PO within 72 hours. You shall be copperative and truthful in all your communications and dealings with your PO and any law enforcement agency.
  9. ILLEGAL DRUG USE: You will not possess or use illegal drugs or any drugs unless prescribed by a licensed physician. You will not be in control or under the influence of illegal drugs, nor will you have in your possession any drug paraphernalia.
  10. NO ALCOHOL: You will not possess or consume intoxicants/alcohol. You will submit to breathalyzer testing or bodily fluid testing as requested by your PO.
  11. DRUG TESTING: You will submit to alcohol and/or drug testing on a random or regular basis as required by your PO.
  12. NO GAMBLING: You will not gamble or play games of chance.
  13. SUPERVISION FEES: You will pay supervision fees as per 46-23-1031, M.C.A.
  14. VICTIM RESTITUTION: You will pay court ordered restitution to the victim. Payments are to be made as determined by the Court and/or PO.
  15. FINES/FEES: You will pay all fines and fees as ordered by the Court.

    OTHER IMPORTANT RESOURCES

    We hope this information is beneficial to you. We find that most victims feel better once the process is explained and they can provide their input. The information provided in this pamphlet is only a guide and is not intended to provide legal advice or impart specific requirements to victims or the Board. If you have further questions, you should contact the County Attorney, your private attorney, or the Board.