7 Tips for a successful parole hearing
- Kate Mitchell
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- Prepare. The Board has access to offenders’ correctional documents and will base their questions around the information contained in those documents. Reviewing documents beforehand can help avoid surprises at a parole hearing.
- Be open, honest, and transparent. Attempting to deceive the Board can severely affect an inmate’s chances of being granted parole.
- Ask for clarification, if needed. Sometimes it is hard to know what a Board Member is asking, so inmates can (politely) ask Board Members to clarify their questions.
- Ask for a break. Hearings can be stressful, and inmates may get flustered, angry, or confused. It’s acceptable to ask for a short recess, which can give an inmate time to speak with their lawyer and get the hearing back on track
- Stay calm. Board Members may ask about sensitive issues or challenge an offender’s answers, but it’s important to stay calm and not answer questions rudely or sarcastically.
- Be careful with the wording of answers. One common issue is giving an explanation of past behaviour that instead comes across to the Board as the offender trying to minimize that behaviour. Another common issue is using inappropriate language, such as swearing, using disrespectful words to describe the victim, etc.
- Think about what closing remarks would be appropriate (if any). Inmates don’t need to say anything at the end of the hearing, but the Board gives offenders the last word if there is something they would like to say. An inmate might thank the Board for their time, clarify an answer given earlier, address an issue not raised by the Board, etc.