School of Public Affairs hosts the Colorado Parole Board
Colorado Parole Board give presentation as part of the Criminal Justice SeriesSheila Huss | School of Public Affairs Apr 6, 2020
Parole. Parole is the early release of a prisoner who agrees to abide by certain conditions, and it has become increasingly important as states that had once abolished it have brought it back, in part, to manage issues of prison overcrowding. In the State of Colorado, parole is mandatory. It comes at the end of a prison sentence and can be either discretionary, granted before the mandatory release date or at the “tail,” when an inmate is released at the end of their prison sentence. The mandatory parole tail is a designated number of years to be served after one’s incarceration sentence.
Parole eligibility. When a person receives a prison sentence, they typically are assigned a parole eligibility date that marks the completion of 35 to 40 percent of the sentence. They also are assigned a mandatory release date, which is the date the person is released from prison regardless of circumstances. Prior to the parole eligibility date, the parole board evaluates an inmate’s risk and readiness for parole. When an inmate comes up for parole for a less serious crime, the decision might be made by one parole board member; if the crime of which the person was convicted is serious, then the entire board reviews the case.
Parole decision-making. The Colorado Parole Board uses many tools in its decision-making, including a standardized, structured decision-making tool that incorporates and weights multiple factors, like the board experience, victims’ input and other factors. Discretionary parole hearings result in either a deferment – where the parole board members advise the inmate what they should do over the next year to improve the likelihood of receiving parole – or an early release. Early release means that the person is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections, but they must abide by conditions to remain in the community. If a person is not released on discretionary parole but reaches the mandatory release date, then they automatically are put on parole. Parole can be revoked via a hearing if a person on parole commits a technical violation (i.e., does not comply with all the conditions of parole) or commits a new crime. The Colorado Parole Board took part in 14,000 application hearings last year (individually), 3,000 of which went to the full board. In addition to discretionary reviews, they conducted numerous revocation hearings.
At the conclusion of the Colorado Parole Board’s presentation, members of the audience asked questions that touched on issues like the atypical cases versus the typical cases that were the basis of the presentation, the implications of not having Black or Brown representation in the administration of justice, and the role of victims in Parole Board decision-making.
About the Criminal Justice Series
CU Denver School of Public Affairs’ Criminal Justice Series focuses on issues related to crime, justice and the law. Through panel discussions, debates, guest speakers and other formats, we structure civil discourse among experts in the field to promote critical thought and further dialogue that will contribute to better informed citizens and voters. Events are held each year across the fall and spring semesters.
Listen to the recording of the event and check out Serendipity Catering who provided this event's catering.