The Parole Commission in Wisconsin

From the Friends of Steven Stewart:

Steven Stewart will be coming before the Wisconsin Parole Commission in May of this year. We want to help Steven parole, therefore we have to write letters of recommendation to the commission. In searching for the right contact information, we found this very old piece about the Parole Commission (dating from before 2003 if you read closely).

We will be contacting the parole commission and ask them to see what is happening to people in Wisconsin who are eligible for parole, but who are barred from pursuing an education, training, work release program, let alone medical care. Who are locked up in the supermax indefinitely with no help from society, no rehabilitation, nothing. And we all, the tax payers, pay for this inadequate system of warehousing people. The lack of parole possibilities and help to move forward is hurting us all.

Here is what it says on the website of WI Department of Corrections about the Parole Commission: The Parole Commission in Wisconsin

Ms. Deirdre Morgan,
Chair 2701
International Lane
Suite 201
P.O. Box 7960
Madison, WI 53707-7960
Phone (608) 240-7280
Facsimile: (608) 240-7299
Email: parole.comm@doc.state.wi.us

Commissioners
Fred Melendez
Dennis Meier
M. Jeanne Huibregtse
Steven Landreman
Jayne Hackbarth
Sharon Williams
Fran Paul

The Parole Commission is the final authority for granting discretionary paroles or early release from prison. The Commission conducts parole interviews with eligible inmates sentenced to the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

A Commissioner meets with an inmate individually and makes an independent decision on the possibility of a parole grant.

The Governor appoints the Commission’s chairperson with the advice and consent of the Senate for a two-year term. The current Chairperson’s term expires March 1, 2003.

The Wisconsin Parole Commission is attached to the Department of Corrections for administrative purposes but it implements its statutory responsibilities independently. Current commission members are selected by the Chairperson.

How Does an Offender Receive a Parole in Wisconsin?

Under the sentencing law in existence previous to Truth-in-Sentencing, an inmate becomes eligible for parole consideration after serving one-quarter of his or her sentences. At the Parole Interview, a Parole Commissioner will gather information needed to determine if the offender will be granted a parole.

Parole Interviews are conducted at the institution where the offender is incarcerated. There are no “courtrooms” at institutions, so the rooms chosen for these hearings are usually offices or small conference rooms. An offender granted parole will be released and will not need another Parole Interview.

If the Parole Interview does not result in a Parole grant, there will be a comment from the Parole Commissioner as to when the offender may be eligible for Parole again. This is called a defer. For example, offenders may be given a “12-month defer” or a “24-month defer”, etc., and their Parole Eligibility Dates (PED) will change accordingly. This means that the offender will not again be eligible for parole until that amount of time has passed. Other than the first Parole Interview (which occurs one month before the PED), all other Parole Interviews will occur approximately two months before the new Parole Eligibility Dates.

In cases where a judge has stipulated that an offender has no Parole Eligibility Date, the offender will actually serve their entire sentence, without any consideration for Parole.

For offenders that have committed a felony on or after 12/31/99 under the new Truth-in-Sentencing law, early parole consideration is not available. In cases such as this, the judge determines the length of time served in prison and the length of time on Extended Supervision.

Parole Commission members review many things when considering parole for an offender. Some examples of things reviewed include offense(s) committed, previous convictions, time served and time remaining on the sentence, letters from victims/witnesses or concerned parties, program participation, and any reports of misconduct while incarcerated.

Criteria for Parole

The following criteria are considered for parole consideration:
– Reached the parole eligibility date in his or her sentence.
– Served sufficient time for punishment of his or her crime(s).
– Shown positive changes in behavior as well as documented progress in programming, treatment and/or educational achievement.
– A viable parole plan which offers the offender realistic opportunities for a stable residence, employment, and programming if needed.
– An acceptably reduced level of risk to the public. (The criteria for determining risk include past criminal and incarceration record, probation and parole violations, security classification, and any unmet treatment or programs needs.)

Truth-In-Sentencing

Under the new Truth-in-Sentencing laws, any person who commits a felony offense on or after December 31, 1999, and is sentenced to at least one year of confinement in prison will not be eligible for early parole. They are required to serve the entire sentence imposed by the Court. However, offenders who violate prison rules may have additional days added to the confinement portion of their sentence.

Upon completion of the confinement portion of their sentence, an offender must serve a period of extended supervision in the community under the supervision of a Department of Corrections Community Corrections agent. At the time of sentencing, a judge determines the length of confinement and the length of extended supervision an offender must serve. By law, the length of extended supervision must be at least ¼ of the time of confinement.

What is the difference between Probation and Parole?

Probation is a decision handed down by the judge at trial. It may be in lieu of jail time or in combination with some jail time. It allows the convicted person to live in the community for a specified period of time under the supervision of a probation officer. Depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the crime, the judge can specify restrictions on the offender’s activities during the probationary period. If an offender violates the conditions or rules of probation, he or she may be sentenced to imprisonment by the judge. This is known as revoking the probation or revocation.

Parole is the early release of an inmate who has served part of his or her sentence. The inmate is allowed to return to the community under the conditions of parole and the supervision of parole agent. Violation of these conditions can result in a revocation of the parole and re-imprisonment for the offender.

The decision to grant parole is the responsibility of the Parole Commission.