Prison hearings are the means by which the ISRB/Board decides if an offender should be released from prison.
The Hearing Process
The Board will:
- Gather and review information about the crime and the offender.
- Hear from others who have useful information about the offender.
- Hear directly from the offender.
- Set about 120 days before an inmate's parole eligibility review or earned release date.
- Planned to last about 45 minutes.
- Run by a presiding board member. The presiding member explains what will be done, swears in the inmate and the inmate's Classification Counselor, and introduces other persons who may be there.
- Recorded by the board members who are there
During the hearing, the counselor may testify to the inmate's:
- Work, training and programming history for at least the current period.
- Infraction behavior.
- Observed reactions to any medications.
- Spare time activities and any noted behavioral ratings.
- Social supports such as visits, calls, and correspondence.
During the hearing, the Board will also hear from the offender, who will be addressed as Mr or Ms.
- The inmate may have questions for the classification counselor.
- The inmate will be given a fairly broad latitude in making a presentation.
- There may be times, as necessary, when the offender is confronted by board members.
The ISRB holds two types of prison release hearings.
- Uses the hearing process to help them decide if the offender's rehabilitation has been complete and the person is a fit subject for release.
- Can not grant the release of a PRE offender until they have made such a decision.
During paroleability hearings:
- A lawyer will be present to assist and advocate for the inmate. The lawyer may ask the classification counselor questions.
If the Board decides the offender is not releasable, additional time will be added to that person's minimum term. This can be repeated a number of times, until the offender's maximum term is up.
The second kind of hearing is a "Community Custody Release" or ".420" (RCW 9.95.420(3)) hearing. These hearings are for inmates who committed certain sex crimes after August 31, 2001 (CCB offenders).
- Uses this hearing process to decide whether it is more likely than not the offender will engage in sex offenses if released on conditions.
If the Board decides that a CCB offender is not releasable, they can add up to 60 months to the minimum term. This can be repeated a number of times, until the offender's maximum term expires.
The CCB prison hearings differ from PRE prison hearings in some important ways:
- The Board Members always review an End of Sentence Review Committee report before the hearing.
- The Department of Corrections has determined not to provide lawyers at CCB hearings. To avoid economic discrimination, private attorneys are not allowed.
- Some times the Board requires that a lawyer be present for an inmate who obviously needs an advocate.
After both types of hearings, the Board takes some time to go over what they learned and make their decision. The Board generally publishes the decision from a hearing within four to six weeks.