- The Massachusetts Parole Board is an agency within the Executive Office of Public Safety authorized to grant paroles, supervise the parolee, and make recommendations to the Governor in regard to pardons and commutations. Annually, the agency conducts over 10,000 face-to-face parole release hearings, supervises over 8,000 parolees, provides notice and assistance to thousands of victims and provides reentry services to nearly 700 state offenders leaving custody with no post release supervision.
The seven members of the Parole Board are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council. Members are appointed for five year terms or to fill the unexpired term of a prior member. Board members devote full time to their duties. The Governor designates one member of the Board as the Chairman, who acts as the executive and administrative head of the Board.
- In Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012)(Miller), the United States Supreme Court held that the ”imposition of a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole on individuals who were under the age of 18 when they committed the murder is contrary to the prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ in the Eighth Amendment.”
This is the process that a clemency petition goes through once it is submitted to the Massachusetts Parole Board for consideration.
The benefits of parole can be measured by comparing rates of recidivism for parolees and inmates who are released without parole. Shawna Hawksley, the Parole Board’s Research and Planning Specialist, prepared this Special Report making that comparison for offenders discharged in 2009. As documented and described in the Special Report, 24% of parolees recidivated while 35% of offenders without parole recidivated. Many of the offenders without parole were subject to probation supervision, but the Parole Board’s statistical system cannot separately track these offenders. Our statistical system identifies inmates who are released without parole, but cannot distinguish between those who are unsupervised versus those who are on probation. Recognizing the benefits of probation, we would expect the recidivism rate for offenders released without probation to be higher than 35%.
- The Massachusetts Parole Board, as an integral component of the criminal justice system, promotes public safety through the responsible reintegration of offenders into the community through supervised conditional release, so that a successful transition from confinement to parole discharge provides a basis for continued responsible conduct.