Utah Board of Pardons & Parole
Frequently Asked Questions
The Board of Pardons and Parole is created by the Utah Constitution and laws enacted by the Legislature. The purpose of the Board is to determine when and under what conditions persons convicted and serving prison sentences should be released. The Board may also pardon, terminate, or commute offender sentences. The Board has statutory authority to impose restitution of modify or forgive court-ordered restitution, fines, or forfeitures.
The mission of the Board is to render just decisions regarding parole and supervision of offenders. Decisions must be consistent with federal and state constitutions and state statutes. The primary objective of the Board is protection of the public. The Board also has the duty to safeguard the rights of victims and offenders.
The Board has five full-time and five Pro Tempore members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. One full-time member acts as the chair. The Pro Tempore members sit at hearings when the full-time members or hearing officers are not available.
The Victim Coordinator is the contact person between victims and Board Members. The Coordinator can help victims in preparing letters or statements for the Board. Personal interviews, to discuss specific victim concerns, can be scheduled with the Victim Coordinator upon request. Upon request and availability, the Victim Coordinator may attend the hearing with the victim to give support.
The mission of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole is to render just decisions by balancing victim needs, offender accountability, and public safety with regard to the length of incarceration, parole supervision, termination of sentence, commutation of sentence, and pardons.
To make the State of Utah a safer, better place to live for all its citizens.
To provide optimum protection of the public and safeguard the rights, privileges, and interests of victims and offenders; to make consistent, rational, and careful decisions, without regard to race, color, religion, gender, political affiliation, or national origin, on the merits of each case, taking into account aggravating and mitigating circumstances; to provide service in the most cost effective, efficient manner; and to respond to all inquiries in a timely fashion and work with other agencies to find solutions to problems
The Utah Board of Pardons was created in 1896 by Utah’s newly adopted constitution and was comprised of the Governor, the Justices of the Utah Supreme Court, and the State Attorney General. The following outlines changes that have occurred in the organization of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole:
1953 Board consisted of three part-time members.
1977 Board consisted of three part-time members and three pro tempore members.
1983 Board consisted of three full-time members and three pro tempore members.
1985 The Governor and not the Board of Corrections appoints the Board.
1986 Jurisdiction expanded from felony cases to restitution and class A misdemeanors.
1988 Board required to notify victims of an offender’s parole hearing.
1990 Board consists of five full-time members and three pro tempore members with staggered five year
terms. Chairperson appointed by Governor for indefinite term.
1992 Commutation power of the Board of Pardons restricted. Death sentence may only be commuted
to “life witout parole”.
1993 The Utah constitutional provision relating to the Board of Pardons was rewritten to include
changing the name to the Board of Pardons and Parole.
In Utah, the Legislature has specified a particular range of time as the applicable statutory sentence for every crime (for example, the statutory sentence for a second degree felony is not less than 1 and not more than 15 years in prison). At sentencing, a Judge can impose a sentence of probation, with attendant conditions and requirements; or the Judge can impose the statutory indeterminate sentence to be served in prison.
When a person is sentenced to prison in Utah, that person must serve the entire maximum statutory sentence unless the offender is released from prison prior to sentence expiration by the Board of Pardons and Parole. The Utah Constitution creates the Board of Pardons and Parole, and assigns to the Board the authority and power to decide how much of the applicable sentence range will actually be served in custody. In addition to determining the amount of time to be served in custody, the Board determines the nature of the release (parole or termination), the conditions of release, and the amount restitution, fines and fees to be paid or remitted.
The Utah Sentencing Commission, established by the Legislature, has developed non-binding, advisory sentencing guidelines for use by Courts and the Board. The guidelines do not have the force and effect of law, but provide only an estimate of the time an inmate may expect to be incarcerated, always subject, however, to the individual facts and circumstances of a case, the characteristics of an offender and the discretion of the Board.
By employing a number of factors, such as the offender’s criminal record, supervision history, nature and severity of the offense and other fact specific details, the Board calculates a sentence guideline, usually in terms of months, which provides a starting point for the Board in its determinations and decisions.
The Board considers the nature and severity of the crime(s) committed, including the harm done to the victim and society, the continued risk posed by the inmate, and the inmate’s behavior and programming efforts while incarcerated. At least three Board Members (constituting a majority) must agree on any release decision.
The Utah Constitution and State Statute. provide for the authority of the Board. Aside from releasing inmates, the Board has other responsibilities.
The Board can pardon past crimes (although this is now usually sought through expungement, which does not involve the Board), commute death sentences, commute other sentences and punishments, rescind parole dates, impose parole conditions, remit fines and fees, impose sanctions less than a return to prison for parole violations, issue warrants and return parolees to prison based on parole violations, revoke parole dates, and conduct Evidentiary hearings.
Sentence and release guidelines specify the amount of time that is recommended for an offender to spend in prison. These guidelines were developed by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. They are reviewed at the time of sentencing by judges and calculated and reviewed by the Board in preparation for a parole hearing. Guidelines are based on the type of offense and offender’s criminal history and are advisory only, not statutorily mandated. Sentence and release guidelines are used by the Board to help make more consistent and uniform decisions. The Board has the discretion to deviate from the guidelines, and will do so based on aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The Board makes its decisions on the individual merits of each case.
Parole is a conditional release from prison to supervision in the community before final expiration of sentence. A parole agent is assigned to the offender by the Department of Corrections. The offender must follow the conditions of parole to remain in the community. The Board will set conditions designed to help the offender in overcoming factors contributing to the offender’s criminal behavior and to provide protection to the victim and society. These factors may include inpatient drug and alcohol therapy, sex offender or mental health therapy, completion of a halfway house program, a “no alcohol” condition, intensive supervision Parole (ISP), electronic monitoring (EM), restitution, or any other conditions the Board deems appropriate.
Putting money in an inmate’s account does not mean the money will go to restitution or compact fees. Money in the inmate’s account is subject to other fees and withholding, and is not automatically applied to restitution. If you want to apply money to an inmate’s restitution you should send a cashier’s check or money order (no personal checks accepted) to:
The check must be made payable to the Department of Corrections, with the offender name and number on the check and the statement FOR RESTITUTION ONLY.
Interstate Compact fees should be submitted through the parole agent or to the address above. Include a note indicating the inmate’s name, inmate number, and specify the check is for Compact fees ONLY.
The Board and Crime Victims
Utah laws require that victims be notified of original parole grant hearings and rehearings (UCA 77-27-5(2)(a) and 77-27-9.5). Prior to April 29, 1996, a victim was defined as an individual against whom the offender committed a felony or class A misdemeanor offense for which the hearing is being held, or a victim of record. After April 29, 1996, for the purpose of the right to be present and heard at a public hearing as provided by 77-38-2(5)(g) and 77-38-3(7)(a), a victim of crime also includes any victim originally named in the allegation of criminal conduct who is not a victim of the offense to which the offender entered a negotiated plea of guilty. A business may qualify as a victim for purposes of testifying.
Approximately three to four weeks before a hearing, the Victim Coordinator will notify the victims, in writing, of the scheduled hearing date. Often the only available information about the victim was obtained at the time of the crime or at the sentencing date. If victims have a change of address or phone number they are requested to inform the Board. The new address or telephone number will be kept on file so that the victim can be assured of timely notification. This information is not released to the offender.
In cases where restitution is owing and the amount of restitution is unclear, victims may be notified and asked to testify at a restitution hearing.
Victims have the right to be contacted regarding release dates. In order to receive notification, a victim must, in writing, request notification from the Department of Corrections (see Notification of Other Releases).
Whether a victim gives testimony at a hearing or not, the Board of Pardons and Parole encourages victims to write a letter advising the Board as to the impact the crime has had on them emotionally, physically, and financially. Link to Victim Impact Instructions and Form
Victims should be aware that Utah Supreme Court decisions require the Board to provide the offender with copies of all documents reviewed by the Board when considering a parole.
Board of Pardons hearings are open public meetings and anyone may attend. Victims should be aware that offenders’ family members and friends, and representatives from the media, are often at the hearings. A victim attending a hearing where the media is present will not be photographed without approval of the victim and the presiding individual.
If a victim has difficulty in obtaining time off from work to attend a parole hearing, the victim may request the Victim Coordinator to contact an employer and make a request on their behalf.
By Utah law, a victim may be notified of “other” releases of the offender (UCA 64-13-14.7). “Other” releases are defined as releases other than those granted by the Board at the time of the hearing. These releases include:
- releases to, or from, a community correctional center;
- release to a program outside of the prison such as rehabilitation programs, state hospital, work release, or residential center; and
A victim must submit a written request to be notified of release. You can contact the Utah Department of Corrections at https://corrections.utah.gov. You may be required to provide the offender’s name, victim’s current mailing address, and the telephone number of a person who can be reached, in case of an emergency. Address changes and contact information must be provided to the Department of Corrections.
Parole is a release from prison to supervision in the community before final expiration of sentence. A parole agent is assigned to the offender by the Department of Corrections. The offender must follow the conditions of parole to remain in the community. The Board will set conditions designed to help the offender in overcoming factors contributing to their criminal behavior and to provide protection to the victim and society.
These factors may include inpatient drug and alcohol therapy, sex offender or mental health therapy, completion of a halfway house program, a “no alcohol” condition, intensive supervision Parole (ISP), electronic monitoring (EM), restitution, or any other conditions the Board deems appropriate (See Appendix B). Also, the Utah Department of Corrections maintains a Sex Offender Registry for parolees convicted of a sex offense. If the victim has particular safety concerns, the Board may order a “no contact” clause to be made part of an offender’s special conditions of parole.
A written request from the victim outlining specific fears and concerns and the need for a “no contact” clause should be submitted to the Board in writing. This request can be made any time before the parole hearing or during the offender’s parole. If the victim has received any threats from the offender or feels that harassment is occurring, the victim should contact the appropriate person as follows: If the offender is incarcerated, the victim may file a complaint with the offender’s prison caseworker; if the offender is on parole, the victim may file a complaint with the parole agent or the Board of Pardons and Parole.
The Board is concerned about such behavior. Harassment or threatening behavior by an offender may result in a longer period of incarceration or a violation of parole.
By law the Board may also impose restitution as a condition of parole. The Board may order the offender to make restitution in an amount not to exceed the actual damages to the victim(s). A restitution order may also address other criminal conduct admitted by the offender or as outlined in a plea agreement.
Restitution will be considered on a “case-by-case” basis. The Board will order compensation to be made unless extraordinary circumstances exist that justify the setting aside of restitution. Once restitution is ordered by the Board, it becomes a special condition for the parole release agreement. Collection usually begins at the time the offender is placed on parole. The Parole Agent works with the offender in setting up a payment schedule according to the offender’s ability to pay. Payments are collected and disbursed by the Department of Corrections. It is important for the victim to keep the Department of Corrections informed about their current address and telephone number. This information should be provided to the supervising parole agent. Consult the phone directory for the address of the parole office. If assistance is needed to determine the correct parole office, contact the Department of Corrections.
Victims who wish to attend a hearing and give testimony are requested to follow the policies as set forth under these frequently asked questions – “How Are Hearings Conducted?” “Entry to the prison and oral testimony at hearings.” Hearing times are not set until about two weeks before the hearing date. Victims may call the Board to obtain information about scheduled hearing times.
Victims of certain crimes may be eligible for compensation:
1. The victim must have suffered physical or psychological injury or be the dependent of a deceased victim.
2. A police report must be filed within one year after the occurrence of the crime.
3. Claims must be filed within seven days after the occurrence of the crime.
Awards are made up to $25,000 for medical care, mental health counseling, loss of earnings, burial expenses, dental care, loss of support to dependents and some essential personal property items for the health and safety of the individual. No awards are made for property losses. The amount of the award is based on collateral sources available to the victim such as a Medicare, Medicaid insurance or worker’s compensation. Funding of the program comes from surcharges and criminal fines.
For further information or questions about qualification, awards or extenuating circumstances click here or contact them at:
State of Utah
Office for Victims of Crime
350 East 500 South, Suite 200
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
(801)238-2360 in Salt Lake County
Toll free 1-800-621-7444 for all other areas in Utah
Information Received or Provided
Yes, please address letters by mail to our office at the following address (ensure you include the individual’s full name and offender number):
Utah Board of Pardons and Parole
448 East 6400 South #300
Murray, UT 84107
Letters may also be e-mailed to our office at email@example.com
The inmate will receive copies of all disclosable material in his/her Board file at least seven days prior to the hearing. If someone writes the Board and wishes to have the letter withheld from the inmate, he or she must explain why disclosure of the letter could present a safety risk.
Types of Hearings
Each inmate whose sentence carries the possibility of parole has the right to a personal appearance before the Board at some point during his or her sentence to determine whether a parole or other disposition short of sentence expiration will be granted. These Original Hearings are scheduled as follows:
In cases where a life has been taken, the Board will review each case and schedule the original hearing based upon the unique facts of the case. (Once an offender is committed to prison for such a conviction, the case will be reviewed by the Board as soon as practicable for a determination of the month and year for their original hearing. The Board will only consider information available to the court at the time of sentencing.)
For first degree felony convictions (where a life was not taken):
if the most severe sentence imposed is greater than fifteen years to life, the original hearing will be scheduled after the service of fifteen years;
if the most severe sentence imposed is a sentence of ten years to life, or fifteen years to life, the original hearing will be scheduled after the service of seven years; and
if the most severe sentence imposed is less than ten years to life, the original hearing will be scheduled after the service of three years.
For sex offenses, third degree felony convictions will be scheduled after the service of six months; and second degree felony convictions will be scheduled after the service of twelve months.
For all other offenses, original hearings are scheduled for third degree felony convictions after the service of three months; and for second degree felony convictions after the service of six months.
One possible decision of the Board at the original hearing can be to not grant a parole date, but rather, to schedule a date for an additional hearing. A rehearing is conducted in much the same way as the original hearing.
After the Board has made a decision in a case, when that decision is to grant a lengthy rehearing or a parole date in the future, there is a mechanism for review of such cases.
The Redetermination policy is as follows:
“Offenders will be eligible to apply for redetermination at five-year intervals from the last time-related decision. A time-related decision is defined as a personal appearance hearing or redetermination review dealing with release or rehearing dates. Offenders who have been given a decision of natural life in prison will be eligible for redetermination at ten year intervals.”
After the Board makes a decision to grant an inmate a release or a rehearing, that individual may, at any time, be referred to the Board for a review of that decision due to violations of prison regulations, new criminal convictions, or other issues. The outcome of a rescission hearing may be to postpone the previously set release or rehearing.
When an offender is alleged to have violated the terms or conditions of the parole agreement, Adult Probation and Parole may request that the Board issue a warrant for the offender’s arrest and return to prison. If a reviewing Board Member finds that probable cause exists for the allegations, a warrant may be issued. After probable cause has been established, and the offender has been returned to custody, the offender has the right to be heard at a Parole Violation hearing, which is scheduled as soon as possible after a warrant is executed.
At the parole violation hearing, the offender has the right to offer pleas to the parole violation allegations. The Board provides an attorney for the offender during the parole violation process. Upon the entry of guilty or no contest pleas to the allegations, the hearing official may take testimony from the parole agent as well as the offender as to disposition. A summary of this hearing is then forwarded to the Board for consideration and decision.
Upon the entry of a not guilty plea, the parole violation allegations may be set for an Evidentiary Hearing, at which the offender can be represented by an attorney of choice at the offender’s expense, or by the attorney provided by the Board. The offender has a right to confront and cross examine witnesses, and the right to present rebuttal evidence. Following the evidentiary hearing, a summary of the hearing is forwarded to the Board for consideration and decision.
At any time during an offender’s incarceration or parole, the Board may review his/her case. This review may be the result of recommendations from prison caseworkers, parole agents, a request from the offender, or occasionally from an outside source. In any case, new information must be presented which has not been considered at the last review of the Board. This type of review can be either an administrative review of the file or a personal appearance hearing.
It depends on the crime committed but is based on a set schedule [See Original Hearing under “Types of Hearings”]. The inmate will receive written notification from our office, about 4-6 weeks arrival at the prison, notifying the inmate of the approximate month and year of their original hearing (initial appearance before the Board). A more detailed notice will be sent to the inmate about 4-6 weeks prior to the hearing, with the exact date, time, and location of the scheduled hearing. Other interested parties can call our office at 801-261-6464 for information, or you can search for hearings and decisions from our web site under search hearings and decisions to check on upcoming hearings.
In cases where a life was taken (all homicide cases), within six months after an inmate arrives at the prison, the Board will set an original hearing, following an administrative review, at the Board’s discretion, within the framework of a sentence.
Eligibility for an original parole grant hearing is determined by the sentence given by the court (UCA R671-201). Original parole grant hearings, on cases where a life has been taken, are determined by the Board on a case-by-case basis.
An offender who has more than one offense will be scheduled according to the most severe offense. Even though an offender has a parole grant hearing scheduled, it does not guarantee that a parole date will be given. Hearings are scheduled by crime after the following period of incarceration (Offense Degree – Sentence – Board Action):
- Capital Felony – Death Sentence – No Date Set
- 1st Degree – Life without Parole – No Administrative Review
- 1st Degree – 15 to Life – 12 Years
- 1st Degree – 10 to Life – 7 Years
- 1st Degree – 5/6 to Life – 3 Years
- 1st Degree – 3 to Life – 12 Months
- 2nd Degree Sex Offense – One to 15 Years – 12 Months
- 2nd Degree Non-sex Offense – One to 15 Years – 6 Months
- 3rd Degree Sex Offense – Zero to Five Years – 6 Months
- 3rd Degree Non-sex Offense – Zero to Five Years – 3 Months
Once the offender has been sentenced on a new charge(s) BOP needs a copy of the new Judgement and Commitment from the court on the new case. An agent (Adult Probation and Parole) is then assigned to complete a post-sentence report (PSR). If the case has been assigned, a due date is given when BOP should receive the report. Once all pertinent information is received then a Recission/Original Hearing will be scheduled on the next available calendar which is usually six to eight weeks out due to scheduling processes. Let the offender know not to panic as the time their currently serving is all taken into consideration.
How Are Hearings Conducted?
Virtually all Board Hearings are conducted by one person, either a Board Member or a Hearing Officer. That person interviews the inmate. Victims of record are invited to participate and have the right to speak, if desired. Inmates are represented by an attorney at Parole Violation Hearings only. Parole officers participate in those hearings as well. Testimony and statements from any other person will not be taken. Any interested member of the public, family members or friends, of either the victim(s) and the inmate are free to send correspondence to the Board regarding any inmate.
Board hearings are open to the public. Children may attend but must remain quiet. Parole hearings include detailed descriptions of the facts of the case(s); graphic accounts of serious crimes and injuries, and intimate, personal information of both inmate and victim(s). These hearings may be disturbing to members of the public, especially children.
Hearings are scheduled for 20 minutes but some may take longer or go shorter. Please arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled start time and bring photo identification.
Typically a hearing is conducted by one Board Member or a hearing officer. The person conducting the hearing will state the nature of the hearing and review the conviction and sentence. Testifying victims will be asked to come forward at a specific time during the proceedings. Testimony may be given when the offender is present or, if the victim requests, the offender will be removed from the room. If the offender is asked to leave the hearing room while the victim is giving testimony, the testimony will be recorded and the offender will be returned to the room after the testimony and allowed to listen to a tape recording of the victim’s testimony. This is required to allow the offender an opportunity to respond to the testimony provided by the victim.
All visitors need to be modestly dressed in order to be permitted entry into the prison. Bare midriffs, see-through blouses or shirts, shorts, tube tops, halters, extremely tight or revealing clothing (including dresses and skirts more than three inches above the knee), or sexually revealing attire shall not be permitted. Children under the age of twelve may wear shorts and sleeveless shirts.
1. By statute a victim is known as an individual against whom an offender committed a felony or class A misdemeanor offense for which the hearing is being held or a victim or record. For those cases where the offender has been convicted after April 29, 1996, the definition has been expanded to include any victim originally named in the allegation of criminal conduct, but who is not a victim of the offense for which the defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty.
2. Family may testify if the victim is deceased, incapacitated or otherwise not available because of the offense. The Board requests that testimony be limited to no more than two victim representatives. Under exceptional or extraordinary circumstances a victim may petition the Board to request additional victim representation and testimony.
3. If a victim does not wish to give testimony, a designee may be appointed to speak on their behalf.
4. Oral testimony at hearings shall be limited to five minutes in length per victim or designee. It is requested that the remarks be written and brought to the hearing and left for the Board file.
5. Testimony may be given when the offender is not present. If requested by the victim, the offender will be asked to leave the hearing room while the victim is giving testimony. After the testimony, the offender will be brought back into the room and be allowed to listen to a tape recording of the victim’s testimony. The offender will be given an opportunity to respond to the testimony.
6. Victims who want to testify are asked to provide courtesy notification to the Board in advance of the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made and time allocated for presentations. Victims should call the Victim Coordinator prior to the hearing to verify the location and time of the hearing and to advise if they are going to testify.
7. If more than four victims are granted permission to testify at the same hearing, the hearing may be rescheduled to provide adequate time to hear testimony.
8. Victims will be subject to all Department of Corrections security procedures and dress code standards. Prison admittance regulations require members of the public to bring one form of photo identification. Please leave other belongings such as purses at home or in a locked car.
9. A victim at a hearing where the media are present will not be photographed without approval of the victim and the presiding individual.
10. Upon advance request, an interpreter can be provided for the victim.
11. Please arrive at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the hearing.
Board hearings will be held at one of Utah’s prison facilities or conducted virtually. If the hearing is conducted at a prison facility, the addresses for each are:
Utah State Correctional Facility
1480 North 8000 West
Salt Lake City, Utah
Central Utah Correctional Facility
255 East 300 North
You can also find these locations here on our website HERE.
All board hearings are recorded. You can use the Board’s online audio request form by clicking here. A recording of the hearing may be obtained by sending a written request that clearly identifies the hearing date and offender’s name. There is a $10.00 fee charged for duplicating and processing if requesting a CD copy of the hearing audio. The request must be accompanied by an advance payment for the recording. There is no fee if audio is to be received via email. To email a request, please click here.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the person conducting the hearing will take the matter under advisement. Under Utah law all decisions must be made by a majority vote of the Board and are not final until issued in writing.
Decisions are based on a careful review of material in the offender’s file, including, but not limited to, information from the sentencing judge, the Department of Corrections, pre- and post- sentence and institutional reports, victim input, recommendations from the prosecuting and defense attorneys, and recommendations from law enforcement agencies. Information may also be received from the offender, the offender’s family and personal acquaintances, and any other individual, agency or entity which provides relevant information.
The results of hearings are public information and most are available within 28 days after the hearing. Any victim or other interested persons may telephone the Board office to learn of the final decision. You can also search Board hearings and decisions by clicking here.
Following a hearing, the Board can either: schedule a parole date; schedule a release without parole (termination); schedule a Rehearing at any point within an offender’s sentence; or order an inmate to serve the full sentence before being released.
Usually between two and four weeks. Offenders are notified in writing, and other interested parties can call our office at (801)-261-6464. You can also search Board hearings and decisions by clicking here.
No, Board decisions are not subject to judicial review.