In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, adult inmates sentenced to life in prison are eligible for parole after they have served 15 years of their sentence. Such inmates are granted an initial hearing in front of the full compliment of the Massachusetts Parole Board to determine whether or not their release would best serve the interests of public safety and be compatible with the welfare of society.
If the Parole Board denies parole after the initial hearing, the inmate will be provided with a subsequent review hearing of a maximum of five years or earlier, at the discretion of the Parole Board.
The guidelines and requirements for this hearing process are set forth in the Massachusetts General Laws [M.G.L.c.27§ 5]
Parole Eligibility Guidelines:
Life sentence inmates with parole eligibility are eligible for parole 15 years from the sentence effective date.
-M.G.L.c.265 § 2
-M.G.L.c.127 § 133A
Additional sentences ordered to run consecutive to life sentences may require the aggregation of the terms and may create a single eligibility of more than 15 years.
What to expect prior to the Initial Hearing:
Prior to the hearing, the Life Sentence Unit staff will interview the inmate and create a summary report for the Board. The report will include: the official version of the crime, the inmate's version, criminal history, medical issues, mental health issued, substance abuse issues, institutional adjustment, institutional programming, parole plans, hearing support and opposition.
Documentation presented by the inmate will be located at the time of this interview.
The Parole Board is required to notify the following offices of the upcoming hearing: the Attorney General, the District Attorney's Office in the district where the crime was committed, the Police Chief of the city or town where the crime was committed, the victim(s) and their family members.
The inmate has the right to counsel and to present witnesses to testify in support of parole.
What to know about the hearing process:
By law, the hearing is open to the public.
The hearing is audio-taped and videotaped.
At the initial hearing, the full Board will conduct the hearing unless the inmate waives his or her right to a full Board compliment.
At the hearing, the Board will hear testimony from those in favor of parole and those who oppose it.
Parole decisions are rendered by the full Board only after members have met in Executive Session. The Parole Board's Record of Decision will follow.
Absent Board members may review the recording of the hearing and vote on the case.
In the case of a denial vote, any setback period will run from the date of the previous hearing.
Review hearings can be conducted by less than the full Board but must be conducted by at least the majority of the Board. Absent Board members will review the record prior to voting in executive session.