1997 Regular Session
By: Representative Endt
House Bill 90
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE PAROLE BOARD TO REQUIRE AN OFFENDER TO PARTICIPATE IN AN ALCOHOL OR DRUG REHABILITATION PROGRAM BEFORE THE OFFENDER MAY BE GRANTED PAROLE; TO PROVIDE THAT IF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS DOES NOT HAVE ANY SPACE AVAILABLE FOR AN OFFENDER IN ITS ALCOHOL OR DRUG REHABILITATION PROGRAMS, THE PAROLE BOARD SHALL REQUIRE AN OFFENDER TO COMPLETE AN ALCOHOL OR DRUG REHABILITATION PROGRAM IN THE COMMUNITY TO WHICH HE OR SHE IS PAROLED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 47-7-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-17. Within one (1) year after his admission and at such intervals thereafter as it may determine, the board shall secure and consider all pertinent information regarding each offender, except any under sentence of death or otherwise ineligible for parole, including the circumstances of his offense, his previous social history, his previous criminal record, including any records of law enforcement agencies or of a youth court regarding that offender's juvenile criminal history, his conduct, employment and attitude while in the custody of the department, and the reports of such physical and mental examinations as have been made. The board shall furnish at least three (3) months' written notice to each * * * offender of the date on which he is eligible for parole.
Before ruling on the application for parole of any offender, the board may have the offender appear before it and interview him. The hearing shall be held two (2) months before the month of eligibility in order for the department to address any special conditions required by the board. No application for parole of a person convicted of a capital offense shall be considered by the board unless and until notice of the filing of the application shall have been published at least once a week for two (2) weeks in a newspaper published in or having general circulation in the county in which the crime was committed. The board also shall give notice of the filing of the application for parole to the victim of the offense for which the offender is incarcerated and being considered for parole or, in case the offense is homicide, a designee of the immediate family of the victim, provided the victim or designated family member has furnished in writing a current address to the board for that purpose. A parole shall be ordered only for the best interest of society, not as an award of clemency; it shall not be considered to be a reduction of sentence or pardon. An offender shall be placed on parole only when arrangements have been made for his proper employment or for his maintenance and care, and when the board believes that he is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding citizen. Within forty-eight (48) hours before the release of an offender on parole, the Director of Records of the department shall give the written notice which is required pursuant to Section 47-5-177. Every offender while on parole shall remain in the legal custody of the department from which he was released and shall be amenable to the orders of the board. The board, upon rejecting the application for parole of any offender, shall within thirty (30) days following the rejection furnish that offender in general terms the reasons therefor in writing. Upon determination by the board that an offender is eligible for release by parole, notice also shall be given by the board to the victim of the offense or the victim's family member, as indicated above, regarding the date when the offender's release shall occur, provided a current address of the victim or the victim's family member has been furnished in writing to the board for that purpose.
Failure to provide notice to the victim or the victim's family member of the filing of the application for parole or of any decision made by the board regarding parole shall not
constitute grounds for vacating an otherwise lawful parole determination nor shall it create any right or liability, civilly or criminally, against the board or any member thereof.
A letter of protest against granting an offender parole shall not be treated as the conclusive and only reason for not granting parole.
The board may adopt any other rules that are not inconsistent with law as it may deem proper or necessary with respect to the eligibility of offenders for parole, the conduct of parole hearings, or conditions to be imposed upon parolees, including a condition that the parolee submit, as provided in Section 47-5-601 to any type of breath, saliva or urine chemical analysis test, the purpose of which is to detect the possible presence of alcohol or a substance prohibited or controlled by any law of the State of Mississippi or the United States. The board, without a court order, may require an offender to complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program before the board grants the offender parole. This requirement must be imposed at least six (6) months before the offender's statutory parole date. The Department of Corrections must certify that there is space in its alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs to accommodate the offender before the parole board requires the offender to complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program administered by the department. However, if there is no space in a facility owned by the department, the parole board shall not require the offender to complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program administered by the department, but shall require the offender to attend an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program administered in the community to which the offender is paroled. The department shall give program priority to those offenders who do not have alcohol and drug programs located in their communities. The board shall have the authority to adopt rules permitting certain offenders to be placed on unsupervised parole. However, in no case shall an offender be placed on unsupervised parole before he has served a minimum of three (3) years of supervised parole.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.