Freedom comes at a cost, which for prisoners means an unwavering commitment to breaking the cycle of crime in exchange for retaining parole. Parole is a conditional freedom afforded to qualified offenders in which they serve their remaining sentence with the rest of society under a parole officer’s supervision.
In Georgia, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles is the governmental body tasked with granting paroles. But with a lot at stake in providing a criminally convicted individual a rare chance at a reformed life, there are specific eligibility criteria and considerations for strict implementation and compliance.
Under Georgia law, parole is not a prisoner’s legal right. However, if their circumstances meet the requirements, the state board can consider parole, but not guarantee it. Parole eligibility is for:
- Anyone serving a misdemeanor sentence after a third of their sentence or upon the expiration of their sentence’s six months, whichever is greater.
- Anyone serving a felony sentence after a third of their sentence or upon the expiration of their sentence’s nine months, whichever is greater. But this comes with certain exceptions. Not eligible are:
- Those with serious violent felony convictions, such as murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated child molestation, sodomy or sexual battery
- Those serving fourth or subsequent convictions
- Those with an aggregated 21-year sentence or more upon completion of their sentence’s seven years
- Those who committed voluntary manslaughter, children cruelty, statutory rape, first-degree incest, drug trafficking, homicide by vehicle under alcohol influence, and aggravated assault or battery must serve seven years on good behavior or a third of their sentence, whichever comes first
- Those sentenced to life without parole
In some cases, a prisoner may be eligible but still denied parole after authorities still find them unfit to reintegrate back to society during a parole hearing. But the board reconsiders at least every after five years.
The board can also issue a warrant for their arrest if a parolee violates their parole terms, such as engaging in criminal activity, maintaining communication with other criminals, or leaving their declared residence without the knowledge or instructions of their parole officer.
A newfound freedom
Life after a criminal conviction presents new challenges. If you are or have a loved one eligible for parole consideration, it is paramount to have a legal team to guide you through these critical times. After all, it will be your or your family member’s right to a transformed life on the line.