There is a difference between how North Carolina’s parole process works and how it works elsewhere, especially in the movies. One important difference is that the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission does not meet with the offender to ask if he or she has been rehabilitated. Another, more complicated difference is how the commission participates in parole decisions under structured sentencing.
What is the commission? The Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission is responsible for approving the release of offenders and the conditions of post-release supervision. It is an independent agency, separate from the Department of Public Safety, composed of four members each of whom is appointed by the governor to a four-year term. The governor also has the authority to remove a commissioner for “misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance” — that is, for abusing the position, misusing the authority of the position or failing to perform the duties as required.
Who is eligible for parole? Eligibility depends on how you define parole. If you are thinking of early release, where an offender would not serve the full sentence, eligibility would depend on the sentence and any credits earned while the offender was incarcerated. Credits for Good Time (good behavior) or Gained Time (participation in work or program activities) would take days off the sentence.
North Carolina followed that system under the Fair Sentencing Act of 1981. On Oct. 1, 1994, though, the Structured Sentencing Act went into effect. Parole — that is, parole for crimes committed after that date — does not follow the same credits and early release formula. In fact, the law eliminated that type of parole altogether.
We’ll explain more next week.
Source: North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission website, accessed Sept. 12, 2014