A parole application interview is a question and answer session between an inmate and the parole board. The interview is part of the parole process and helps the board determine whether or not to grant release and under what terms. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is the “application interview” for parole in Colorado?
- 2. How do I apply for parole in Colorado?
- 3. When will I get my parole interview?
- 4. Can my lawyer represent me during the application interview?
- 5. Who else will be able to attend the application interview?
- 6. How does the board decide whether I get paroled?
- 7. What are the aggravating and mitigating factors in a parole hearing?
- 8. What happens if the parole board denies my application?
An “application interview” for parole is an interview of an inmate to determine whether the inmate will be paroled, and the conditions of parole. The interview is conducted by at least one member of the Colorado Board of Parole. The interview can be a face-to-face interview, a live telecommunication interview, or a telephonic interview, at the discretion of the board.1
Application interviews are generally conducted before only one board member. The majority (more than half) of interviews are conducted by video conferencing. Video conferencing interviews are typically held at larger correctional institutions, including:
- Colorado State Penitentiary
- Sterling Correctional Facility
- Limon Correctional Facility
Face-to-face application interviews generally take place in the Denver-metro area at local jails and probation offices. Telephone interviews are generally for smaller correctional institutions in rural areas.2
After the interview is over, the interviewing board member will make a recommendation to either defer the inmate's application for parole or release the inmate on discretionary terms. A second board member will review the recommendation. If the second board member approves the recommendation, the decision is final.
In most cases, the State Parole Board will conduct a parole application interview within 90 days of the inmate's first Parole Eligibility Date (PED). Eligibility is based on a number of factors, including the type of criminal offense and the defendant's criminal history.3
Any inmate sentenced for a crime with a mandatory parole will receive an application interview. This will provide for the destination, duration, and conditions of release. An interview is generally set before release; however, for a crime with mandatory parole, the inmate can be released on parole without an application interview.45
As part of the application, an inmate must have a parole plan, which says where they intend to live, work, and the individual's employer or sponsors, or who will be responsible for the individual once they are released.
Individual board members do not have the authority to grant parole for violent crime convictions in Colorado. Violent crimes include any crime involving:
- Use, possession, or threatened use of a deadly weapon; or
- Causing serious bodily injury or death to any other person.
All cases involving a violent crime have a full board review. Instead of a single board member application interview, a violent crime review has to have at least 4 board members. In order to be granted parole, the petition has to receive at least four votes in favor of parole.6
The State Board of Parole is to conduct an application interview within 90 days prior to the inmate's first parole eligibility debate.7
Any following request reviews may be conducted by file review without a face-to-face, telephonic, or video conferencing interview.
Your attorney may be present during an application interview with proper clearance. However, your lawyer does not have specific legal authority during an application interview. Your lawyer can observe the interview but cannot speak on your behalf.
Parole revocation hearings in Colorado are different than application interviews. Lawyers can be present and advocate for their clients during revocation hearings.8
Supporters, members of the public, and victims of the crime can attend an application interview. Opposing parties (supporters and victims) shall be separated. Any disruptive demonstrations are cause for removal from the application interview.9
For application interviews, members of the public can only attend a hearing at the facility where the offender is assigned.10
Anyone who wants to attend an application interview must submit a request to the correctional facility a minimum of 10 working days before the interview. Members of the public must be cleared through the Administrative Head of the facility before the date of the interview. The correctional facility is to coordinate access with the visitor.11
Victims of the crime and individuals in support of the victim can attend an application interview. Victims have broader access to the application interview. Victims can attend the interview at the facility where the offender is assigned or at the location where the board member is conducting the interview.12
Victims can also testify at an application interview. Other individuals can also speak on behalf of the victim, where:
- The person is a victim of any crime;
- The individual is requested by the victim to testify;
- The person is a relative of the victim (if the victim has died);
- If the victim is a minor; or
- The victim is incapacitated and unable to appear.13
Friends, family, and other supporters of the inmate can attend the application interview hearing. However, supporters in attendance are limited to five (5) people. Offender supporters can only attend the application interview at the facility where the inmate is assigned.14
Like other members of the public, supporters need to submit a request to attend at least 10 days before the hearing and have to obtain clearance. If a supporter wants to speak in support of the inmate, he or she will only have an opportunity to speak if the presiding board member allows it.15
Supporters can also send a letter of support. A letter of support for the offender can be sent to the offender's case manager online, through uploading the letter into the “Offender Portal.” Any letters improperly sent to the parole board will be routed to the offender's case manager.
Any final decision on the application for parole does not need to be made during the application interview. The board can make one of four decisions on whether someone will be paroled:
- To grant parole;
- To defer parole;
- To table the case pending the outcome of the parole plan investigation or pending the receipt of additional information; or
- To present the matter at a full board review 16
The board members can consider a number of things in making their parole decision, including:
- Case histories
- Personal data
- Criminal records
- Parole plan
- Risk assessment guidelines
- Objective criteria
- Other information 17
The state board may grant parole when the inmate:
- Has served his or her minimum sentence (less time allowed for good behavior);
- There is a strong and reasonable probability that the person will not thereafter violate the law; and
- The release of the inmate is compatible with the welfare of society.18
The board considers the “totality of the circumstances,” in deciding parole. The totality of the circumstances includes a number of factors. This includes:
- Victim testimony or statements
- Risk of reoffense
- The inmate's treatment program participation and progress
- Criminal risk factors
- The inmate's conduct in the correctional institution
- The inmate's parole plan
- If the inmate has threatened the victim or victim's family
- Aggravating and mitigating factors
- Previous escape attempts
- Whether the inmate is working towards a diploma or degree
- Testimony from a sponsor or employer 19
Aggravating and mitigating factors are taken into consideration when the board makes parole decisions. Aggravating factors are negative things that make the crime worse. Mitigating factors are things that are in the defendant's favor or make the offense less severe. The board can consider these, and any other relevant factors in making these decisions.2021
Extraordinary aggravating factors include:
- The crime involved serious bodily injury, or threat of serious bodily injury
- The crime involved acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness, or callousness.
- The defendant was armed or used a deadly weapon at the time of the offense.
- The offense involved multiple victims.
- The victim was vulnerable because of age, disability, ill health, or extreme youth.
- The offender's conduct was directed at a police officer, or other official during the exercise of his or her official duties.
- The offender helped to get others to participate in the crime.
- The offender took advantage of a position of trust to commit the offense.
- The offender committed as crime-for-pay.
- The circumstances surrounding the offense indicate that the crime was carried out after a lot of planning and deliberation.
- The object of the crime was to acquire illegal drugs.
- The offender engaged in a pattern of violent conduct which indicates a serious danger to society.
- The offender was on parole or on probation for another felony in Colorado when he or she committed the offense.
- The offender was under confinement in prison or was an escapee from any correctional institution when he or she committed the offense.
- The offender has numerous or increasingly serious convictions as an adult or adjudications of delinquency as a juvenile.
- Any other relevant aggravating factor.
Extraordinary mitigating circumstances include:
- The offender was a passive participant in the offense.
- The offender played a minor role in the offense.
- The victim was not an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.
- Substantial grounds exist that tend to justify the offender's conduct.
- The offender committed the crime under duress, coercion, threat, or compulsion.
- The offender has no history of prior delinquency or criminal activity or has generally led a law-abiding life prior to the offense.
- The offender voluntarily acknowledges wrongdoing or shows remorse for the criminal conduct.
- The offender is financially responsible for others and, to avoid undue hardship to his dependents, a shorter period of incarceration is warranted.
- Imposing a shorter period of incarceration would help with rehabilitation.
- The offender compensated, or made a good faith effort to compensate, the victim of the criminal conduct for any damage or injury sustained.
- Any other relevant mitigating factors.
If the board denies parole after an application interview, the application interview decision is not appealable.22
Similarly, if a victim is notified that the individual is going to be paroled, the victim cannot appeal the board's decision.
Unfortunately, for most inmates, there is no appeal for an application denial. However, if the board did not follow the proper state regulations, you may have grounds to appeal the board's decision. For example, if a board member has a conflict of interest, they should not be responsible for deciding whether the inmate gets paroled.
If the board decides to defer parole, the inmate may be able to request a reconsideration of the decision to defer release. Prior to the completion of the deferral, the inmate may request reconsideration which will be granted or denied at the discretion of the chairperson.23
If the board makes a decision to revoke a parolee's parole, the individual can appeal the parole revocation hearing decision. The parolee or parolee's lawyer can appeal the revocation decision within 30 days of the revocation hearing.
The board can also rescind or take back a decision granting parole to an inmate. However, the inmate is entitled to a recission hearing at the Colorado Board of Parole before this can happen.
If you are ready to apply for parole or are awaiting an upcoming application interview, talk to your lawyer. Your Colorado criminal defense attorney can tell you more about the process and what options you have.
Call us for help...
If you have been a loved one in jail awaiting release, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado criminal defense attorneys have many years of experience representing people who are in jail and waiting to get out. We are among the best Colorado attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.
- 8 Code of Colorado Regulations (CCR) 1511-1, Rules Governing the State Board of Parole and Parole Proceedings, Rule 1.0 Definitions (“‘Application Interview' - an interview of an Inmate eligible for Parole, convened to consider the Inmate's parole application and to determine the conditions of parole. The Parole Application Interview shall be a face-to-face interview, a live telecommunications interview, or a telephonic interview at the discretion of the Board.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (A) (“Whenever an Inmate initially applies for Parole, the Board shall conduct a Parole Application Interview with the Inmate. The Parole Application Interview may be conducted by video conferencing, telephone, or face-to-face for the consideration of Release on Parole and the setting of destination, duration, and conditions of Parole.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (B) (“The Board shall conduct the Application Interview with the Inmate within 90 days prior to the Inmate's first PED pursuant to C.R.S. 17-2-201 (4)(a) and subsequent Hearings in accordance with the deferral period determined by the Board.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (H) (“If the Inmate is unavailable for a Parole Application Interview, the Inmate may be Released on Parole without a Parole Application Interview after the Board has set the conditions of Parole. The Inmate's Case Manager shall be informed of the Board's decision”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (C) (“An Inmate sentenced under any statute which provides for Mandatory Parole shall receive a Parole Application Interview for the setting of the destination, duration, and conditions of Parole.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (E) (“At the Parole Application Interview, at least one board member shall be present.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 5.03 Parole Application Interviews (B), see footnote 3 above.
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.05 Attendance Requirements (A)(4) (“During Parole Application Interviews, Full Board Reviews and Rescission Hearings, attorneys may be present with proper clearance, but have no specific legal authority. Attorneys may be present and advocate for their clients during Revocation Hearings.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.05 Attendance Requirements (A) General Requirements for Attendance. (“(1) Persons attending Parole Hearings shall not disrupt the orderly conduct of the hearing. (2) Banners, placards, or similar demonstrations or disruptive sounds will be cause for removal from the Hearing. (3) Opposing parties shall be separated.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.05 Attendance Requirements (B) Access to Hearings (“(1) Members of the public shall be permitted access to attend Parole Board Hearings, unless they are currently under criminal supervision or when such access is specifically determined to be incompatible with the safety and security of the Hearing. (2) For Application Interviews, members of the public may only attend a Hearing at the facility where the Offender is assigned. (3) The request shall be submitted to the assigned facility at a minimum of 10 working days prior to the Hearing. (4) Once the clearance has been obtained, the assigned facility will coordinate with the visitor to schedule access. (5) Members of the public who wish to attend a Hearing must be cleared through the Administrative Head or designee, prior to the date of the Hearing.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.05 Attendance Requirements (C) Victim Attendance at a Hearing. (“(2) For Application Interviews, Victims may attend Hearings in person at the location of the Parole Board Member who is conducting the interview. (3) Victims shall be allowed to attend all types of Board Hearings (i.e., Application Interviews, Full Board Reviews, Rescission Hearings, Revocation Hearings). Victims may attend in person or by telephone or video conference.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.05 Attendance Requirements (C) Victim Attendance at a Hearing. (“(13) An individual may testify at any Hearing, personally or with counsel, on behalf of the Victim if the individual: (a) is a Victim of any crime; or (b) is requested by the Victim to appear on behalf of such Victim; or (c) is a relative of the Victim if the Victim has died, or (d) if the Victim is a minor, or (e) if the Victim is incapacitated and unable to appear.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.06 Attendance by Offender Supporters (“(A) For the safety and security of all attendees, offender supporters in attendance will be limited to five. (B) For Application Interviews, offender supporters may only attend a Hearing at the facility where the Offender is assigned.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 3.06 Attendance by Offender Supporters (“(F) An individual who wishes to be present to support the Offender may do so, but may not have an opportunity to speak unless the presiding Board Member permits the individual to do so.”)
- 8 CCR 1503-1, Rule 6.5 (“Final action on any application for parole need not be taken in the presence of the applicant. The Board may reach any one of four decisions at the conclusion of the parole application interview: to grant parole, to defer parole, to table the case pending the outcome of the parole plan investigation or pending the receipt of additional information, or to present the matter at a Full Board Review. If the offender has ever been convicted or adjudicated of an offense enumerated in § 17-22.5-405(5), C.R.S., or demonstrated any propensity for violence, the case shall be referred for a Full Board Review.”)
- 8 CCR 1503-1, Rule 6.6 (“Prior to taking final action, the Board may review the records, case histories. personal data. criminal records. parole plan. risk assessment guidelines. objective parole criteria and other information as may be brought before the Board.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 6.01 General Considerations (“(D) The Board may Parole an Inmate when he or she: (1) Has served his or her minimum sentence, less time allowed for good behavior; and (2) There is a strong and reasonable probability that the person who will not thereafter violate the law; and (3) The Release of such person from institutional custody is compatible with the welfare of society.”)
- 8 CCR 1511-1, Rule 6.04 Consideration of the Totality of the Circumstances (“(A) In considering Inmates for Parole, the Board shall consider the totality of the circumstances, which include, but need not be limited to, the following factors: (1) The testimony or written statement from the Victim of the crime, or a relative of the Victim, or a designee, pursuant to section C.R.S. 17-2-214; (2) The actuarial risk of reoffense; (3) The Offender's assessed criminogenic need level; (4) The Offender's program or treatment participation and progress; (5) The Offender's institutional conduct; (6) The adequacy of the Offender's Parole plan; (7) Whether the Offender, while under sentence, has threatened or harassed the Victim, or the Victim's family, or has caused the Victim, or the Victim's family, to be threatened or harassed, either verbally or in writing; (8) Aggravating or mitigating factors from the criminal case; (9) The testimony or written statement from a prospective Parole sponsor, employer, or other person who would be available to assist the Offender if released on Parole; (10) Whether the Offender had previously absconded or escaped or attempted to abscond or escape while on community supervision; and (11) Whether the Offender completed or worked toward completing a high school diploma, a general equivalency degree, or a college degree during his or her period of incarceration.”)
- C.R.S. 17-22.5-404 Parole Guidelines (4) (“(a) In considering offenders for parole, the state board of parole shall consider the totality of the circumstances, which include, but need not be limited to, the following factors: (I) The testimony or written statement from the victim of the crime, or a relative of the victim, or a designee, pursuant to section 17-2-214; (II) The actuarial risk of reoffense; (III) The offender's assessed criminogenic need level; (IV) The offender's program or treatment participation and progress; (V) The offender's institutional conduct; (VI) The adequacy of the offender's parole plan; (VII) Whether the offender while under sentence has threatened or harassed the victim or the victim's family or has caused the victim or the victim's family to be threatened or harassed, either verbally or in writing; (VIII) Aggravating or mitigating factors from the criminal case; (IX) The testimony or written statement from a prospective parole sponsor, employer, or other person who would be available to assist the offender if released on parole; (X) Whether the offender had previously absconded or escaped or attempted to abscond or escape while on community supervision; and (XI) Whether the offender successfully completed or worked toward completing a high school diploma, a high school equivalency examination, as defined in section 22-33-102 (8.5), C.R.S., or a college degree during his or her period of incarceration.”)
- Colorado Attorney General's Office, Parole Overview 2008 at https://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ccjj/Meetings/2008/2008-05-09_ParoleOverview.pdf
- 8 CCR 1503-1, Rule 6.8 (“Board Parole Application interview decisions are not appealable.”)
- 8 CCR 1503-1, Rule 6.11 (“If the offender requests reconsideration of the decision to defer parole prior to the completion of the deferral period, the request may be granted or denied by the Chairperson. At the chairperson's discretion, it may be referred to the member(s) who made the decision to defer parole.”)