California Innocence Project

Parole

What is Parole?

The parole process is the process by which a prisoner is released back into the community to serve the remainder of his or her sentence under the supervision of a parole officer. The parolee must abide by certain terms set by the parole board and report to his or her parole officer on a regular basis. If the defendant commits a parole violation, he or she will have to return to prison for the remainder of his sentence.

Innocence and Parole

Parole presents a difficult situation for innocent inmates. One of the considerations a parole board has when determining whether or not to grant an inmate parole is whether the parole candidate has expressed remorse for the crime committed and takes responsibility for his actions. Unfortunately, to a parole board, an innocent inmate presents a unique and difficult problem: when someone who has been wrongfully convicted seeks parole, he or she cannot accept responsibility and apologize for something he or she has not done. Innocent defendants also face a related problem when being considered for parole: if an inmate truthfully denies culpability, he or she may be denied parole for this reason alone, but if he or she admits responsibility to better the chances of parole, this false statement may be used later as a statement of guilt – and prevent the innocent defendant from being able to reverse his or her conviction.

Many innocent inmates who are seeking parole express remorse for the loss the victim’s families have suffered, but parole boards still deny parole based on the failure to accept responsibility for the crime. Inmates who were wrongfully convicted are therefore in a no-win situation when it comes to parole – they cannot accept responsibility for a crime they did not commit, but they will never be granted parole if they do not.

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