Elderly Parole Hearings
An elderly parole hearing is a parole suitability hearing for an incarcerated person who is eligible for the Elderly Parole Program. Depending on a person’s conviction and sentence they may be eligible for elderly parole after being incarcerated at least 20 years and reaching 50 years of age, or being incarcerated at least 25 years and reaching 60 years of age. Incarcerated persons are eligible for the Elderly Parole Program if their sentence is long enough, unless they are sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole. For more information on when a person is eligible for the Elderly Parole Program, please see the section titled “Eligibility for an Elderly Parole Hearing” below.
Once an incarcerated person becomes eligible for the Elderly Parole Program, they are entitled to a parole suitability hearing, unless they were entitled to an earlier hearing under another law. If they already received a hearing before meeting the eligibility criteria for the Elderly Parole Program, the date of their next hearing is based on the denial period given at their last hearing.
All of the general information about parole suitability hearings is applicable to elderly parole hearings. In addition, at an elderly parole hearing, the hearing panel is required to give special consideration to the elderly inmate factors. For more information on the elderly inmate factors, please see the section titled “Factors the Board Considers at an Elderly Parole Hearing” below.
Eligibility for an Elderly Parole Hearing
Under Penal Code section 3055, incarcerated persons are eligible for the Elderly Parole Program after reaching age 50 and being continuously incarcerated for 20 years, except the following:
- Persons sentenced to death;
- Persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole;
- Persons sentenced under California’s strike laws for a second or third strike;
- Persons convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer or former peace officer due to performance of their official duties.
Under a February 10, 2014 court order by the Three-Judge Panel in Coleman/Plata v. Newsom, incarcerated persons sentenced under California’s strike laws for a second or third strike are eligible for elderly parole after reaching age 60 and being continuously incarcerated for 25 years.
People serving a sentence of death or life without the possibility of parole are not eligible for the Elderly Parole Program.
Factors the Board Considers at an Elderly Parole Hearing
At a parole suitability hearing, a hearing panel determines whether an incarcerated person is suitable for parole by considering all relevant and reliable information available. At an elderly parole hearing, the hearing panel is also required to give special consideration to the incarcerated person’s advanced age, long-term confinement, and diminished physical condition, if any. These elderly inmate factors are also considered by the Board’s forensic clinical psychologists when preparing risk assessments for elderly parole hearings. Further information on the elderly factors can be found in the board’s regulations at California Code of Regulations, title 15, section 2449.43.
Release Dates and Denial Lengths for Elderly Parole Hearings
If an incarcerated person is granted parole at an elderly parole hearing, they will be eligible for release immediately after applicable review periods, which can take up to five months. A decision to grant parole is subject to the Board’s decision review process and the Governor’s review process.
If an incarcerated person is denied parole at an elderly parole hearing, they will be denied parole for 15, 10, 7, 5, or 3 years.
If you need additional information about elderly parole hearings, please write or call the Board at:
Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036
Victims who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend an inmate’s elderly parole hearing or who would like to request notice of an inmate’s release must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services. For further information, or to inquire about court ordered restitution, please visit CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services website or call toll-free 1-877-256-6877.