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Parole Revocation - A Primer

NCJ Number
University of Toledo Law Review Volume: 11 Dated: (Summer 1980) Pages: 893-938
F S Merritt
Date Published
46 pages
This paper, an introduction to the procedures employed in parole revocation, is written to assist paroling authority members to understand the legal problems which are involved in implementing the relevant Supreme Court decisions.
In Morrissey v. Brewer (1972), the Supreme Court recognized that the conditional liberty which an individual enjoyed on parole was within the scope of liberty protected by the 5th and 14th amendments' due process clauses. The Court not only delineated minimum requirements of a revocation hearing, it also required a final revocation hearing. Gagnon v. Scarpelli (1972) determined that the inmate had a qualified right to counsel which applies if the inmate raises a substantial issue regarding the question of parole violation or if the issues raised are so complex that the inmate would need the assistance of counsel to comprehend and organize a presentation. A revocation hearing must take place within a reasonable time after the parolee is taken into custody. A notice, informing the parolee fo the time and place of the hearing should also contain a detailed explanation of the charges. Evidentiary problems relating to revocation hearings include the burden of proof, the quantity and quality of evidence to be admitted, the existence of privileges, and the extent of confrontation and cross-examination. The practical effect of the application of the substantial evidence requirement to revocation hearings is to require that sufficient direct evidence, whether circumstantial or not, be introduced to permit the hearing body to find that the State, and not the inmate, has carried the burden of proof. The exclusionary rule is applicable in revocation hearings where police or parole officers have obtained evidence for the sole purpose of effectuating a parole revocation. The privilege against self-incrimination, which the Court has applied to prison disciplinary proceedings, should seemingly apply in parole revocation proceedings. To minimize any possible delay of the revocation hearing, a preliminary hearing is required to determine probable cause and the applicability of revocation as the proper remedy. In order to facilitate review of the decision and to demonstrate the proper exercise of discretion, the paroling authority is required to make a written statement of decision containing the evidence relied upon and the reason for revocation. Footnotes with references are included.