1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Kirby
Senate Bill 2007
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT A VICTIM OR VICTIM'S FAMILY MEMBER WILL BE NOTIFIED OF A PAROLE HEARING AND CAN TESTIFY; TO REQUIRE NOTIFICATION OF UPCOMING MEDICAL RELEASE; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT A VICTIM OR VICTIM'S FAMILY MEMBER WILL BE NOTIFIED OF AN OFFENDER'S UPCOMING MEDICAL RELEASE AND PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO TESTIFY OR SUBMIT A LETTER OF PROTEST; 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 such 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 prior to 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 such 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 shall also give notice of the filing of the application for parole to the victim of the offense for which the prisoner is incarcerated and being considered for parole or, in case the offense be homicide, a designee of the immediate family of the victim, at least twenty (20) days prior to the date of the hearing, provided the victim or designated family member has furnished in writing a current address to the board for such purpose. The victim or designated family member who has furnished a current address to the board shall have the right to be heard at the hearing and before the board rules on any application for parole. 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 prior to the release of an offender on parole or medical release, 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 such 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, or by the commissioner that an offender is eligible for medical release, notice shall also 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 such 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 or by the commissioner regarding medical release shall not constitute grounds for vacating an otherwise lawful parole determination or medical release, nor shall it create any right or liability, civilly or criminally, against the board or any member thereof.
A letter of protest or personal testimony against granting an offender parole shall not be treated as the conclusive and only reason for not granting parole.
The board may adopt such other rules 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 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. Section 47-7-4, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-4. The commissioner, a member of the board and the medical director of the department, by majority vote, may place an offender who has served not less than one (1) year of his sentence, except an offender convicted of a sex crime, on medical release. Medical release shall be on a supervised basis for at least three (3) years as is required for unsupervised parole. The commissioner shall not place an offender on medical release unless the medical director of the department certifies to the commissioner that (a) the offender is suffering from a significant permanent physical medical condition with no possibility of recovery; (b) that his further incarceration will serve no rehabilitative purposes; and (c) that the state would incur unreasonable expenses as a result of his continued incarceration. The commissioner shall give notice of any upcoming medical release to the victim of the offense for which the prisoner is incarcerated or 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 such purpose, not less than thirty (30) days prior to the offender's scheduled release, and the victim or designated family member shall have the right to be heard prior to the offender's release. Any victim or designated family member desiring to be heard shall request a hearing not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the offender's scheduled release. Written letters of protest may be accepted in lieu of personal testimony.
Failure of a victim or designated family member to appear to testify shall not bar the commissioner from placing an offender otherwise eligible on medical release, and a letter of protest or personal testimony shall not impair the commissioner's exercise of discretion to place an offender on medical release.
Within forty-eight (48) hours prior to the release of an offender on medical release, the Director of Records of the department shall give the written notice which is required pursuant to Section 47-5-177.
This section shall stand repealed from and after July 1, 1998.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.