This is a guide to some of the most commonly asked questions that both the inmate's family and victims might have about parole hearings in Alabama.
1. Where can I see when an inmate is coming up for parole?
The hearing dates are listed on the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles website at http://www.pardons.state.al.us/Hearings.aspx, but each inmate will also receive a letter from the Board informing him or her of what date the hearing will be held.
2. Where are the parole hearings conducted?
All parole hearings are conducted at the Board of Pardons and Paroles building at:
Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
301 South Ripley Street
Montgomery, AL 36130.
3. Is there parking available around the Board of Pardons and Parole building?
Yes, there is metered parking surrounding the Board of Pardons and Paroles building. Ticketing does not begin until 8 AM and they regularly ticket individuals who do not have time on the meter (note: re-feeding the meter is illegal). There are parking decks available in downtown Montgomery but they are several blocks from the building where the hearings will take place.
4. When should I arrive for the hearing?
There is no set time that an individual's parole hearing will take place. The doors to the building will open around 7:30 AM, the employees of the Board will give instructions on what to do, and people will begin filling out the paperwork to be allowed to go into the hearing room around that time. The Board does not have a set order that the cases are considered in, but arriving early will help ensure that you have your hearing before the Board breaks for lunch. People will line up before the doors open at 7:30. The hearings will begin some time after around 8:30, but there is no set time that the Board will begin the first hearings.
5. Who can go into the parole hearing? How many people can speak?
Parole hearings are public hearings. However, to support or oppose the parole of an individual the person must fill out the paperwork the Board gives them and be over the age of 16. To speak, the individual must be over the age of 18. The inmate will be allowed up to 3 people to speak on their behalf on why the Board should release them on parole. Those opposing parole are given the ability to have more individuals and organizations speak. The inmate or those who are opposing the parole can have numerous additional people come and support their release, but they would not be able to speak. The Board will take note of their appearance and it can be a consideration in their decision to release or not release an inmate.
6. Will the individual who is up for parole be able to speak at the hearing?
No, the person whose parole is being considered will not be present. They will have an interview with an institutional parole officer. During that interview, they will be able to explain their plan for if they are released and answer questions via a risk assessment so that the Board can determine the risk level of their release.
7. What is a risk assessment?
Each inmate will be given questions that will be used to determine their likelihood of re-offense according to the Ohio Risk and Needs Assessment System. This is to assist in the Board's determination of whether parole should be granted and if it is granted what requirements the parolee would have as a condition of release.
8. What type of limitations on parole can be put on a parolee?
The Parole Board has a lot of discretion to order parolees follow certain requirements upon release. The Board might order that the inmate be released to a halfway house or to the L.I.F.E. Tech Transition Center. The Board can also require the parolee undergo intensive or electronic monitoring, remain drug and alcohol free, be employed within 30 days, undergo a mental health evaluation, or attend Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
9. What can I do to support an inmate when I cannot go to the parole hearing?
Individuals who want to support a loved one, friend, or community member being released on parole can send a letter or information to the Board of Pardons and Paroles building at 301 South Ripley Street Montgomery, AL 36130 explaining why they should be released.
Alternatively, they can fax that information to (334) 353-7701.
10. If I want to oppose someone's release, what can I do to stay notified of a hearing date?
The hearing dates are posted on the Board's website. If you are a victim of a crime or a certain kind of relative of the victim of a crime, you can register at https://victims.alabama.gov/ or fill out this form and return it to your local District Attorney's office to get notification of when an inmate is being considered for parole.
11. What resources are available for victims of a crime to assist with parole hearings?
The Attorney General's Office of Victim Assistance can assist individuals who are victims of crimes and they are available through the toll-free hotline 1-800-626-7676. They can provide information on victim's rights in Alabama and can speak during the parole hearings to oppose the release of an inmate. Additionally, organizations such as Victims Of Crime And Leniency (VOCAL) can provide assistance towards those who are victims of crimes. Information about VOCAL can be found on their website.
12. If I oppose someone being considered for parole, what can I do to express that to the Board?
Individuals who are concerned about a person being released on parole may show up to the hearing to oppose parole and they can also send a letter to the Board at Board of Pardons and Paroles building at 301 South Ripley Street Montgomery, AL 36130 explaining why they should not be released. Alternatively, they can fax that information to (334) 353-7701. A confidentiality law will protect your letter opposing parole from being released.
13. Is the parole consideration date listed on the Alabama Department of Corrections website the parole date?
No, it is unlikely the person would be considered for parole at the date that is listed as the parole consideration date. It takes some time for the Board to schedule the hearings and notify all the individuals as
required by law, so the parole hearing date can be several months later.
14. Is it helpful to hire an attorney/advocate to speak at the hearing?
It is very helpful to employ an attorney or parole advocate to speak on your behalf at the parole hearing. Those people are going to know what the Board does or does not care about in their determination to release an inmate, and they will usually be able to highlight the reasons why an inmate should be released in a more effective way than the family normally can. Additionally, the lawyer or advocate can explain issues or discrepancies with the information that the Board might have with disciplinaries or issues in the individual's case in a way that is more likely to be successful than the family or supporters. No advocate or lawyer can guarantee that an individual will be released, but it will likely increase the likelihood they would be released.
If you are looking for an attorney with experience in getting individuals released on parole please feel free to call our Firm at (205) 216-3304.