Parole opportunities for non-violent offenders

Last session, the legislature made quite a few changes to the laws concerning parole eligibility.  Almost all of those changes were not retroactive.  One change it did make applies to persons already serving time and that was a mechanism whereby persons who have been convicted of non-violent crimes who have served 25% of their sentence may request the judge who sentenced them (or, if that judge is no longer available, the senior circuit judge) to recommend parole to the parole board. Apparently this applies to habitual sentences as well as non-habitual sentences. 

As the statute reads, an inmate who meets the criteria (non-violent crime who has served 25% of his or her  time) would petition the sentencing judge to recommend to the parole board that he or she be paroled.  I would assume that anyone doing this would want to present evidence of his good behavior in prison, any classes he or she has taken, etc.  If the sentencing judge agrees, it would still be up to the parole board whether to grant parole.

Here’s the section:

MCA Sect. 47-7-3(1)(G)(iii)

(III)  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1)(a) of this section, any nonviolent offender who has served twenty-five percent (25%) or more of his sentence may be paroled if the sentencing judge or if the sentencing judge is retired, disabled or incapacitated, the senior circuit judge,recommends parole to the parole board and the parole board approves.

I have no idea to what extent persons are having success with this procedure.  There was a lot of confusion over the summer as to which inmates it would apply and in that confusion, I seem to have overlooked writing much about it.

19 thoughts on “Parole opportunities for non-violent offenders

  1. Any idea on if HB 1267 will help drug offenders who’ sentence was enhanced because of prior conviction get a parole hearing? Its pretty clear the sentencing judges are not going to recommend this to parole board and if they do parole board not doing it.

  2. Will hb. 1267 help violent offenders or just non violent. Also it’s says every prisoner and convicted of any offense mandatory language not only that how could a non violent offender have life without being a habitual offender to whom would have to serve day for day please enlighten me….

  3. Here’s the bill signed by the governor. It states that “(a) No prisoner convicted as a confirmed and habitual criminal under the provisions of Sections 99-19-81 through 25 99-19-87 shall be eligible for parole.”

  4. Judges are granting them. Last week I asked on the public defender’s listserv specifically about Tomie Green since she’s the senior judge in Hinds and was told she’s granted at least 5. And somewhere here I have an order where Marcus Gordon granted one for someone serving life for murder (if I can dig it out I will post it). If anyone knows how the hell that happened it would be nice to hear. I have no idea what success anyone is having with these at the Parole Board. Would love for people to share the experiences they are having around the state.

      • Thanks for encouragement. I hired a lawyer and petitioned the judge and yes they granted it. Now its just getting mdoc to have the hearing . I will let you know and hopefully this will encourage others.

      • Hi Joyce, what was the process, procedure & cost of getting your loved one out on parole? I have a brother who has one pending & we’re trying to find out all we can in order to do it right & prayerfully succeed at getting him out on parole

  5. It is my understanding that some crimes which had previously been considered as “violent offenses” now are considered “non-violent offenses”. Is this the case…and is there a chart available showing these changes in violent v. non-violent crimes as well as the changes in sentencing? I have had some questions about the application of these changes in parole eligibility to those convicted as habitual offenders and if it does can think of a particular case that involved a conviction (and sentence) under habitual offender status that has really bothered me and I will make an attempt to help the guy.

  6. There was no list of violent felonies until 97-3-2 was enacted in 2014. It was just up to the judge to determine whether the prior was violent or not. For instance, in Taylor v. State, 122 So. 3d 707, 708 (Miss. . 2013), the Miss.S.Ct. affirmed the trial court’s finding that ‘[s]exual intercourse between an underage child and an adult clearly was a crime of violence, because sexual intercourse could not occur without the exertion of some degree of physical force, even if it entailed no pain or bodily harm and left no mark.” Statutory rape is listed as a crime of violence under 97-3-2 but the presumption is rebuttable. I once researched whether changes in parole statutes should be applied retroactively. All I remember is that it was a hard question to research and I don’t remember what I concluded. If I get a burst of curiosity, I’ll look some more.

  7. Hi Jane, I have a family member who has one of these petitions pending before Roger T Clark right now, do you know if he’s granted any since denying Mr Perez’s? Is a lawyer necessary

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