This is the last post in our series about parole in North Carolina. In our last post, we discussed the process for crimes committed before the state adopted the structured sentencing program. Structured sentencing dramatically altered the release process. The Structured Sentencing Act actually did away with parole. The act did not, however, do away with the parole commission; rather, it renamed the commission and adjusted its authority and responsibilities.
Structured sentencing parole — crimes committed after Oct. 1, 1994: The Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission has no say in whether an offender is released. However, every offender convicted of a felony is subject to post-release supervision. The commission has a say in what happens during the post-release supervision period, but it does not have a say in how long the offender is supervised.
Remember, structured sentencing breaks felonies into classes based on the severity of the crime. Each category is then divided according to the offender’s past offenses. (The North Carolina Court System website has a lot of information about the sentencing “grid.”)
- Class A felonies are the most serious. Offenders are sentenced to life without possibility of parole
- Class B1 through Class E — violent crimes, crimes against the person — are in post-release supervision for 12 months, unless otherwise directed by law. When the state requires an offender to register — as a sex offender, for example — post-release supervision lasts for 60 months (five years).
- Class F through I — generally crimes against property — must be under post-release supervision for nine months.
The commission’s goal is to provide each offender with a bridge from prison life to civilian life. Post-release supervision programs may build on self-sufficiency skills or may enhance job skills. The programs often involve other state agencies.
The commission evaluates each case and builds an individualized program for each offender. The commission also monitors each offender’s progress and may adjust the post-release program when necessary — that includes revoking supervision as well.
In conclusion: While we have done our best to provide an overview of the process followed to release an offender from prison, we cannot say often enough that every case is different. If you or a loved one has questions about parole or post-release supervision, please consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney.
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, “A Citizen’s Guide to Structured Sentencing,” revised 2012
North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission website, accessed Sept. 12, 2014