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How can you get parole in Texas?

A criminal defense attorney's job doesn't end when a trial comes to its conclusion or a defendant accepts a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. Many people who are convicted of crimes eventually become eligible for parole -- but that eligibility doesn't always equal early release.

Parole is not automatic -- the parole board has to review each case individually and make a decision about whether or not that individual is ready to return to society. Many times, they don't even meet the inmate, relying instead on what's in the inmate's file.

What factors can influence your ability to gain parole?

1. Your diligent participation credits

Texas doesn't grant early release for good behavior anymore. Instead, inmates are given "participation credits" for active participation in a work program, going through drug or alcohol treatment, anger-management treatment, getting a high school diploma, passing an equivalency exam or getting a vocational degree. Participation can still earn you diligent participation credits even if you didn't complete the entire program, as long as you had to quit due to factors that weren't under your control.

2. Your likelihood not to return to prison

Since ensuring public safety is an important part of any parole board's goals, an attorney can review your case for factors that will help demonstrate to the parole board that you aren't a threat to others and include that information in what he or she sends to the parole board for review.

For example, if alcohol or drugs were a factor in your crime, highlighting the fact that you successfully went through addiction counseling can help reassure the parole board that you won't make the same mistakes all over again.

3. Your plan for after your release

An attorney can sometimes help clients arrange for a space in a halfway house or an extended treatment program in order to secure parole. An attorney can also help clients make a written plan for their post-relief life that's clear and directed. A written plan can include where the paroled inmate can live, what job he or she will have and what social support will be around.

For more information on how to obtain parole once an inmate is eligible, talk to a criminal defense attorney today.

Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, "State Jail Diligent Participation Credit," accessed July 20, 2017

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