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Texas Parole FAQ

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texas_parole_faq.jpgI’ve represented clients in parole review all over Texas. As the vote date approaches, my clients and their family often have questions, mostly about what the Parole Board is up to and when they will vote. I’ve put together some general answers to the most common questions raised by my clients and their families. As always, this isn’t legal advice. Find a good parole lawyer to get specific advice for your loved one’s case.

1. What does it mean to be in parole review?

In Texas, inmates go into parole review 6 months before their first parole review date or 4 months before any subsequent parole review date. Theoretically, a Texas Parole Board can vote to release or deny release to an inmate any time during that 6 or 4-month review period. But that almost never happens. Most Boards will vote on an inmate within a few weeks of the parole review date. So what is the point of having an inmate in parole review status for so long? I think the most helpful way to understand the parole review period is from an administrative perspective. Having an inmate in “parole review” means that TDCJ is on the clock for getting the file prepared for the Board to vote and getting the inmate interview completed. It also provides specific timelines for parole attorneys to prepare and submit parole packets and support materials to the board.


I’m writing a series of blog posts on what constitutional rights you have, or don’t have, during the parole review process.

In my first article, I explained why inmates have no constitutional protection during normal parole review.

In this post, I focus on another type of statute-based parole review called discretionary mandatory release, which is controlled by Texas Government Code Section 508.149. Part (a) of the statute explains which inmates are eligible for mandatory release. See my post here for more information on eligibility. Part (b) provides a framework for parole boards to use when deciding if an inmate should be released to mandatory supervision.


This is the first of a series of blogs I intend to right about what rights, if any, you get during various phases of the parole process.

This particular article focus on an inmate’s first contact with the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole – the initial parole review.

  1. The Rights You Lose Along the Way

Most attorneys and even most of their clients have a general familiarity with what rights the United States Constitution affords them during a traffic stop, investigation, arrest, plea, or trial. We’ve all heard of the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney, and the right to confront the witnesses the State wants to call against you.


The Texas parole system can be extremely frustrating, even for those fortunate inmates who get voted for release on their first review. It’s best for those going into the TDCJ system and their families to be aware of the potential delays and pitfalls in the parole system so that they can be proactive. I’ve prepared some highlights of the bureaucratic process you’ll have to negotiate. Please understand this is a general summary. Every case has specific facts that will need to be addressed by the inmate’s parole lawyer.

  1. The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole is administratively distinct from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (and this matters).

If you go to the Parole Board (BPP) website, you’ll see a url that includes “TDCJ.” So you’d assume that the BPP is just another department inside the criminal justice system in Texas. But in fact the BPP operates separately.

This is important because the BPP’s only job is to vote for release or denial of release (a job done by the parole board members and commissioners who sit on seven different parole boards across Texas). As part of the voting process, the board also assigns conditions for release.


Inmates across Texas having been asking their parole lawyers about Texas House Bill 1271. During the last legislative session a bill was introduced that would modify Texas Government Code Section 498 and greatly broaden the application of good conduct time to parole eligibility for certain inmates convicted of serious crimes.

Specifically, HB 1271 would have required TDCJ to apply good time credits to inmates convicted of 3(g) offenses –

  • Murder;
  • Capital murder;
  • Aggravated Kidnapping;
  • Human trafficking;
  • Indecency with a child;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Aggravated sexual assault;
  • Injury to child, elderly, or disabled person (first-degree offense);
  • Aggravated robbery;
  • Burglary of a habitation to commit a felony other than theft;
  • Compelling prostitution of a minor by force, threat, or fraud;
  • Criminal solicitation of a first-degree felony;
  • Sexual performance by a child;
  • Drug offenses involving the use of a child;
  • Any felony in which a deadly weapon was used before, during, or after the crime; and
  • Engaging in criminal activity (an offense that requires the prosecutor to prove you committed or conspired to commit a particular set of crimes as part of a criminal combination that included other people)

Spoiler alert: the bill didn’t pass – it was “adjourned sine die” which is a fancy way of saying the bill never left committee.

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