The Board of Parole Hearings Division functions as a supporting element to the Board in carrying out its statutory mandate to conduct parole hearings. Hearings Officers are vital to the Board's prudent and orderly release of adult felons. In their capacity as fact finders, Hearings Officers function as an extension of the Board in accordance with TCA 40-28-105. Parole Hearings Officers are appointed by the Chair of the Board of Parole and are empowered to conduct parole hearings in local jails, Department of Correction institutions and other detention facilities throughout the state for all eligible offenders, and to provide Board Members with non-binding recommendations.
The Tennessee Board of Parole makes the schedule of parole hearings available for the convenience of the public. This list is updated each Monday, unless that day is a holiday. When a Monday holiday occurs, the list will be updated on Tuesday. To view the current schedule, click here.
- Structure & Responsibility
Parole Hearings Officers function as an extension of the Board in the parole hearing process. In accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated TCA 40-28-105(d) (2), Hearing Officers are appointed by the Chair of the Board of Parole to conduct parole hearings and make non-binding recommendations for review by Board Members.
The organizational structure of the Parole Hearing Officers Division consists of a Central Office component and four parole hearing regions. The Parole Hearings Director, assisted by the Parole Hearings Assistant Director, has statewide responsibility for the operation and effectiveness of the division. Each of the four parole hearing regions is under the direct supervision of a Parole Hearings Regional Supervisor, who functions in the dual capacity of supervisor and hearings officer. An administrative secretary assigned to each region provides administrative support.
In making a parole hearing recommendation, the Hearings Officer reviews the offender's Board of Parole hearing file and institutional file, as well as other essential information that may impact the outcome of the hearing. This information may include but is not limited to:
- Recommendations and statements from institutional staff, family members and members of the community in support or opposition;
- Testimony of interested parties who are in support or opposition;
- Proposed release plan and information provided by the offender;
- Offender views on how he or she will be successful on parole supervision;
- Social and criminal history;
- Prior supervision history in the criminal justice system;
- Circumstances of the current offense(s);
- Institutional record and program participation;
- Evidence and testimony pertaining to parole revocation;
- Other information deemed relevant to the hearing.
In addition to the information referenced above, Parole Hearings Officers utilize several advisory instruments in the parole hearing process. The risk assessment instrument is used as one means of assessing the risk level of offenders being considered for release. Other advisory instruments used are the Guidelines for Release and Revocation Guidelines. These instruments, although advisory, are critical to maintaining consistency and credibility in the parole hearing recommendation and decision-making process.
Board Members review all recommendations made by the Hearing Officers and may adopt, modify or reject the recommendation. Pursuant to statute, three concurring votes by Board Members constitutes a final parole decision for some conviction offenses, while four concurring votes are required for most violent conviction offenses. Two concurring votes are required to revoke parole.
- Types of Parole Hearings
Pursuant to statute, parole hearings are conducted in local jails, Department of Correction institutions and other locations within the state for all eligible offenders who come under the purview of the Board. Parole Hearings Officers conduct hearings in the following categories:
- Grant hearing: A hearing held to consider an eligible offender for release from incarceration to parole supervision.
- Preliminary parole revocation hearing: Also known as a probable cause hearing. Such hearings are conducted by a Parole Hearings Officer to determine if the offender likely violated a condition of his/her parole.
- Final revocation hearing: A hearing held to determine whether an offender has violated the conditions of his parole. Following a revocation hearing, parole supervision may either be revoked or reinstated.
- Custodial hearing: A hearing in which parole from one sentence to another is considered.
- Pre-parole rescission hearing: A hearing by which the Board may terminate an inmate's grant of parole, before the inmate is actually released on parole, due to conduct, violations or omissions committed by such inmate prior to his or her release, or pertinent information that was not available at the time of the hearing.
- Post-parole rescission hearing: A hearing by which the Board may terminate an offender's grant of parole, after such offender is actually released on parole, due to conduct, violations or omissions committed by such offender, significant information fraudulently given or withheld by the offender or on behalf of the offender, or other information the Board was unaware of at the time of the parole grant.
- Time setting hearing: A hearing held to determine when to begin service of a new felony conviction committed while the offender was on parole supervision.
- Appeal hearing: Upon written request from the offender or an attorney representing the offender, the Board may grant an appellate review to an offender whose parole has been denied, revoked or rescinded, if there is significant new evidence or information not available at the time or the hearing, if there was misconduct by the Hearings Official substantiated by the record, or if the Hearings Official made significant procedural errors.
- Parole Hearing Appeals
Tennessee Code Annotated 40-28-105 (d)(11) mandates an appeal review process for offenders whose parole has been denied, revoked or rescinded. It also establishes the criteria for appellate reviews. Responsibility for managing the parole hearing appellate review process is assigned to the Parole Hearings Division. Appellate reviews may be granted for any of the following reasons:
- Significant new information that was not available at the time of the hearing;
- Misconduct by the hearings official;
- Significant procedural error(s) by the hearings official.
The Parole Hearings Division central office staff employs a three-tier review process to review appeals. Appeals that meet the above criteria are forwarded to Board Members for review and final instructions specific to the appeal. Appeal requests must be submitted no later than 45 days after the offender receives notification of the Board's final parole decision. If the Board directs that an appeal hearing should be granted, the hearing will be scheduled on the next available docket and the decision from that hearing is final.
- Parole Revocation/Rescission Review Pursuant to 40-28-122(g)
Tennessee Code Annotated 40-28-122 (g) provides for a review process for offenders whose parole has been revoked or rescinded based solely on new charges. Notifications must be submitted in writing to the Board in accordance with the provisions of the law, which may be found here.
- Parole Hearings Division Contacts
Central Office: Beth Williams, Parole Hearings Director -- 404 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, Tennessee 37243 615.741.1150
East Tennessee Regional Parole Hearings Office: Larry Byington, Supervisor -- 1426 Elm Street, Knoxville, Tennessee 37921 865.582.2074
Middle Tennessee Regional Parole Hearings Office: Rick O'Bryan, Supervisor -- 404 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, Tennessee 37243 615.532.9052
Memphis Area Regional Parole Hearings Office: Scott Thompson, Supervisor -- 32 West E. H. Crump Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38106 901.947.8671
West Tennessee Regional Parole Hearings Office: Lana Hardin, Supervisor -- 1979 St. John Avenue, Suite G, Dyersburg, Tennessee 38024 731.288.7935