Utah Board of Pardons & Parole
The Board and Justice Reinvestment
On March 31, 2015 Governor Gary R. Herbert signed House Bill 348S01 into law. The bill made changes affecting sentencing, credit for time served, parole violations, and credit for program completion. Most of the changes affecting individuals under the jurisdiction of the Board went into effect October 1, 2015.
The bill reduced penalties for certain drug crimes. The reduced sentences shortened the expiration date (or maximum potential time in prison). The changes are not retroactive and only apply to new sentences entered after October 1, 2015.
Sentencing Guidelines established by the Sentencing Commission provide a recommendation about how long an individual should serve in prison for a given offense and offense history. The Board may go above or below the Guidelines based on aggravating or mitigating factors. The Sentencing Guidelines were updated in October 2015 to reduce the guideline for several low level offense categories.
Credit for Time Served
House Bill 348 expanded the definition of jail time that can be credited as time served against a prison sentence. Jail time served as a condition of probation or for a violation of probation may be counted as time served. This change is not retroactive and applies to new prison sentences after October 1, 2015. (Note: the Board does not grant credit for time in jail served for other convictions or for probation violations not related to the offense that resulted in the prison commitment or when time is tolled.)
Sentencing Guidelines and Parole Violations
The Sentencing Commission established guidelines about how long an individual may be incarcerated when parole is revoked. The Guidelines are no more than 60 days of incarceration for the first parole revocation, 120 days for the second, and 180 days for the third. The Board may give less incarceration time for less severe violations or when there are mitigating factors. The maximum parole revocation periods should be reserved for the most serious violations. Under limited conditions the Board may find an exception to the Guidelines and revoke parole for a longer period of time up to the expiration of an individual’s sentence.
Earned Time Program – Utah Code 77-27-5.4
The bill established a reduction of incarceration time (time cut) for individuals who successfully complete approved programs that are part of the individual’s case action plan (CAP). The individual may receive four months for each program up to a maximum of eight months.
Individuals with a life without parole sentence or who have been ordered to expire a life sentence by the Board are not eligible. The Board may order the forfeiture of earned time credits for a major disciplinary infraction. There may be circumstances when the previously ordered release date does not allow enough time for the full four or eight month time cut however the Board will approve as much of a time cut as practical (see Utah Code 77-27-5.4(3)(a)).
Some individuals do not have a release date either because they have not had an original hearing or they are set for a re-hearing. If the individual completes a qualifying program, the Board will acknowledge the completion and consider the appropriate adjustment at the individual’s next hearing.
The Department of Corrections may submit a special attention request for additional discretionary time cuts based on exemplary performance, completing programs beyond the two CAP priorities, or other positive accomplishments.
Earned Compliance Credit on Parole – Utah Code 64-13-21(7)
Individuals may earn credit for compliance with the conditions of parole. Each month of successful parole will reduce the maximum term of parole by 30 days. For example a typical 36 month parole would be terminated at 18 months if the individual had no violations. If parole is revoked any earned compliance credit is forfeited. According to Utah Code 64-13-21(7)(a) the program only applies to individuals on a three year parole as defined in 76-3-202(1)(a). The program began on October 1, 2015.
The Response/Incentive Matrix creates a framework for Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) to respond to good performance or violations of individuals on parole. The matrix allows for swift graduated responses short of returning an individual to prison for technical violations and the matrix creates incentives for positive behavior. As part of the graduated responses, AP&P may request 1-3 days jail time as an intermediate sanction. AP&P submits these requests to the Board for approval for individuals on parole or to the Court for individuals on probation.
The matrix is published by the Sentencing Commission and can be found in the Sentencing Guidelines.