Parole consideration is a hopeful prospect for low risk criminals in Georgia with less than a life sentence in prison. It’s also, however, a complicated procedure that can be intimidating to anyone who doesn’t know the processes involved. Knowing what a criminal’s loved ones, or even their victims, can do to influence the decision of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles concerning an inmate’s parole, and understanding the impending process can make the prospect less daunting. Here’s a brief explanation of the Georgia parole process and what factors are taken into consideration, and under whose authority.

Felons incarcerated in Georgia are automatically eligible for parole once parole-eligible. There’s no application required for this consideration, which is managed by the Georgia Parole Board and carried out through a public process. Parole is only granted after a series of procedures involving investigations, solicitations, and hearings aimed to determine the risk and likelihood of rehabilitation for the inmate. The entire process of parole consideration begins automatically when an inmate has become eligible for parole, which is usually after one-third a sentence has been served.

It’s important to first note that the presence of attorneys is not required, but is allowed by the Georgia Department of Corrections and Parole Board. Many inmates find this to be a saving grace, as attorneys can help direct an inmate in the proper avenues for serious parole consideration. Any representing attorneys are required to be in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia and must charge a fee to the client.

Once the procedures have begun, with or without an attorney, the first step is for the Parole Board to begin investigations on the inmate. They build a file, separate from any information held by the Georgia Department of Correction, based on interviews with arresting officers and witnesses as well as judges and district attorneys to write up an investigation report for the Parole Board to review.

Once investigations have been completed on the eligible inmate, the Parole Board will take a personal history statement from the inmate which details life history including previous employment and information about living family members. Once all this information has been compiled into a folder about the inmate, including the personal history statement, investigation reports, and all other information submitted by the public about the inmate’s eligibility, the Parole Board takes everything into consideration to make a preliminary decision.

Before making a final decision, the board reviews the inmate’s file from the Department of Corrections, taking into consideration information like behavioral history while incarcerated and case documents that could sway a final decision. Risk factors are all taken into consideration, and low risk inmates are the most likely to receive favorable outcomes. Throughout this entire process, the public is welcome to submit any information that could affect the Parole Board’s decision about the inmate. This list of people can include victims and witnesses, family members and friends, and the overall general public.

Once parole has been determined, the future of the inmate rests with the Georgia Department of Corrections. The department will either find the next steps for the parolee, or they’ll continue incarceration with the inmate until they’re up for consideration again. In the case of new parolees, the Department of Corrections will question job prospects and family members or friends, and they’ll follow the recommendation of the Parole Board in finding a halfway house, a rehabilitation facility, or a home with family.

The process for parole in Georgia is somewhat customizable for each inmate, because every charge is treated differently and the inmate’s personal history plays a large part in the final determination. However, every parole process can be summed up within four different steps. First an inmate becomes automatically eligible for parole, which brings on an investigation by the Parole Board. Once every piece of information from those involved in the inmate’s case(s) are collected and an investigation completed, the Parole Board will take all things into consideration to determine the fate of each potential parolee.