The 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Morrissey vs. Brewer established “due process” requirements for revoking parole, creating an administrative hearing process before a neutral and detached officer. This led to the creation of Hearing Operations in 1980 to provide specialized hearing officers who have the training and understanding of “due process” requirements needed to conduct required hearings. All of the information in this section applies to those released on either parole or mandatory supervision.
What Is The Role of Hearing Operations?
The Board’s Hearing Operations unit administers the parole revocation hearing process by:
- Scheduling hearings;
- Reviewing and acting on requests for legal representation, appointing attorneys when necessary;
- Conducting preliminary and/or revocation hearings;
- Reviewing/processing hearing reports and waiver packets (for those choosing to forego hearings) and making recommendations on the case;
- Handling hearings and extradition matters in out-of-state cases supervised by Texas under the Interstate Compact, and
- Providing a process for reconsidering a revocation decision.
What Types of Administrative Revocation Hearings May Be Conducted?
Parole violators legally may be entitled to both a preliminary hearing and a revocation hearing, or in some cases to just the revocation hearing. A preliminary hearing seeks to determine if probable cause exists to believe an offender violated one or more conditions of parole. If probable cause is found, the revocation hearing may be held. For the Board to revoke an offender’s parole or mandatory supervision, a revocation hearing must find a preponderance of credible evidence that one or more parole conditions were violated.
Preliminary and revocation hearings are conducted in two phases. The first (allegation) phase is limited to presenting evidence for alleged violations. The hearing does not proceed to the second phase unless an applicable level of proof is found for at least one violation. The second (adjustment) phase, or mitigation hearing, provides an opportunity to weigh evidence about an offender’s adjustment while on parole, such as work history, compliance with required programs and conditions of administrative release and previous violations of parole or mandatory supervision.
How Does the Board Make Revocation Decisions?
Three member voting panels of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles typically review waivers and hearing reports. There are six offices throughout the state, with the hearing location generally determining which panel receives the case. Analysts review the hearings and waivers for presentation to the panel.
What Actions May the Panel Take?
The panel has several options:
- Proceed to a revocation hearing,
- Continue parole or mandatory supervision but transfer the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, or an Intermediate Sanction Facility;
- Continue on supervision, with or without modifying conditions,
- Allow to discharge if the offender is past the discharge date,
- Revoke the parole or mandatory supervision release, and
- Reverse a previous revocation.
What Are The Responsibilities of Hearing Participants?
- Is under no obligation to answer questions or provide information on any alleged violation.
- May hire an attorney, at their own expense, or request a state appointed attorney.
- (or their attorney) may request witnesses, directing requests to the parole officer.
- (or their attorney) may ask direct and cross-examination questions of witnesses.
- May testify in their own behalf and present testimonial and documentary supporting evidence.
- (or their attorney) may object, make motions and raise concerns regarding procedures or evidence.
- As an employee of the board, is responsible for conducting revocation hearings.
- As a neutral and detached fact finder, determines the relevant facts of the case and objectively summarizes pertinent information in a report for the Board.
- As a TDCJ-Parole Division employee, presents information to support the alleged violation.
- Obtains subpoenas for all offenders and adverse witnesses.
- Serves subpoenas and notifies all parties involved in the hearing of witnesses expected to testify.
- Provides the offender and hearing officer copies of all documents to be presented as evidence.
- Provides counsel to the offender.
- Presents and examine witnesses.
- Addresses each allegation in defense of the offender.
- Attend the hearing as requested.
- Tell the truth in responding to relevant questions.
- Refrain from any attempt to participate or interrupt
- Abide by any restrictions imposed by jails or other confinement facilities.
How Does the Administrative Hearing Process Work?
Generally, offenders arrested under a Parole Division warrant fall into two categories:
- Those entitled to both preliminary and revocation hearings, and
- Those entitled to a revocation/mitigation hearing only.
At the initial interview, offenders may choose to waive one or both administrative hearings.
Hearings follow these procedures:
Preliminary hearing requested:
After a pre-revocation interview, the parole officer schedules a preliminary hearing and notifies the offender of the date and time.
A hearing officer conducts the preliminary hearing, reviews all information and evidence, and decides whether probable cause exists to believe that a violation occurred.
If probable cause is found for at least one parole violation, the hearing officer will:
- Decide if the case goes to a revocation hearing and gives the offender a choice either to be heard at the revocation hearing or to waive the hearing. If the offender chooses a hearing, it is scheduled at the preliminary hearing and all parties are notified.
- If the offender waives the hearing, or the hearing officer finds the case does not merit a revocation hearing, the hearing officer will forward the waiver or preliminary hearing report to a Parole Panel for disposition. The panel generally will respond by taking one of the following actions:
- Continue the parole or mandatory supervision in a manner warranted by the evidence, which may include transferring the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, or an Intermediate Sanction Facility.
- Direct the case to proceed to a revocation hearing, or
- Revoke the offender’s administrative release status (Only when the revocation hearing has been waived)
Preliminary hearing waived:
- If the hearing is waived at the initial offender interview, the parole officer forwards the waiver with attachments to the Parole Panel for disposition. After reviewing the waiver, a Board Analyst, if there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred, may refer the case to a parole officer to schedule a revocation hearing, or may present the case to a Parole Panel for disposition.
- When a panel receives a preliminary hearing waiver packet, the panel generally takes one of the actions listed above (2a, b or c).
The following procedures are used for offenders entitled to a revocation hearing only:
Revocation hearing requested:
After the initial pre-revocation interview, the parole officer schedules a revocation hearing and notifies the offender of the date and time.
A hearing officer acts as the Board’s representative in conducting the revocation hearing.
The hearing officer reviews all information and evidence to determine if a preponderance of credible evidence exists to believe a violation occurred. If evidence indicates at least one parole violation, the hearing officer moves to the mitigation phase of the hearing. Within a reasonable time after the hearing, the hearing officer forwards to the Parole Panel a report summarizing the evidence, including all submitted documents. The hearing officer and parole officer each make a recommendation for resolving the case. A Board Analyst, who also makes a recommendation, presents the case to the Parole Panel. The panel disposes of the case by either:
- Continuing the parole or mandatory supervision as warranted by the evidence, which may include transferring the offender to a treatment facility, halfway house, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility or an Intermediate Sanction Facility,
- Directing the case to go to a revocation hearing (only when considering a waiver of the hearing),
- Revoking the offender’s administrative release status, or
- Referring the case back to the hearing officer for further development of factual or legal issues.
If revoked, the supervising parole officer provides the offender a copy of the hearing officer’s report and notice of the right to petition to reopen the hearing.
Waiving the revocation hearing:
If the revocation hearing is waived at the initial offender interview, the parole officer forwards the waiver with attachments to the panel. A Board Analyst reviews the waiver and attachments to decide if a preponderance of evidence shows that a violation of parole or mandatory supervision occurred.
The analyst presents the case to a panel for final disposition. When revocation hearings are waived, the panel will choose one of the options listed in 1-4 above.