More than 5,000 prisoners, over 11 percent of the population, are serving either parolable or non-parolable life sentences. This aging population is generally very low risk and is becoming increasingly expensive to care for as health problems increase.  About 850 individuals are serving parolable life terms. Although they became eligible for release after serving 10 years, hundreds of people have now served 25, 30, 35 years or even longer because of changes in parole policies.  A number of CAPPS’s recommendations for improving the parole process would expedite the release of those individuals who pose no risk to public safety. These include:

  • Calculate the parole guidelines for parolable lifers.
  • Require the parole board to use the criteria and tools to assess lifers that it uses for all other prisoners serving lengthy sentences.
  • Eliminate the authority of successor judges to veto lifer paroles.
  • Require the board to interview parolable lifers no less than once every three years, once they become eligible for release.
  • Revise the way the board calculates consecutive sentences for lifers.
Besides specific recommendations regarding the parole decision-making process, CAPPS also compiles data and advocates for expediting lifer reviews.


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