Parole Suitability Hearings

Overview

A parole suitability hearing is a hearing conducted by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) to determine if an inmate should be released from prison.

A parole suitability hearing is often a very stressful and significant event for inmates, victims, victims’ family members, correctional staff, and the community. The Board is dedicated to protecting public safety, treating all persons who participate in a parole hearing with respect and dignity, applying the law in an unbiased manner, and protecting the rights of inmates and victims.

The Board conducts parole suitability hearings for a variety of inmates who are sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including:

  • Inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, commonly referred to as life-term inmates or “lifers,” once they have served a certain amount of time based on the sentence imposed by the court.
  • Inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for a nonviolent offense under an alternative sentencing scheme, such as the state’s Three Strikes Law, once they have served a certain amount of time based on their commitment offense.
  • Youth offenders –inmates who were under the age of 26 at the time of their offense, who have served a minimum of 15, 20, or 25 years of continuous incarceration, depending on the sentence imposed by the court, and who are eligible for a youth offender hearing.
  • Inmates who are age 50 or older, who have served 20 years of continuous incarceration, and who are eligible for the state’s elderly parole program.

The purpose of a parole suitability hearing is to determine if an inmate should be released from prison. Parole suitability hearings are usually conducted in-person at the prison where the inmate is located. However, inmates serving their California prison sentence in another state may have their parole hearing conducted by telephone or via video-conference. Hearings are conducted by a two or three-person panel comprised of commissioners and a deputy commissioner.

Public Comments: Any person may submit information to the BPH concerning any offender. When deciding whether to release an offender on parole, the BPH considers all information received from the public. Written comments should be directed to the Classification and Parole Representative at the prison where the proceeding will be conducted. Those comments will be included in the offender’s Central File and will be considered by future hearing panels. Communications opposing an offender’s release on parole may be placed in the confidential section of the Central File. The names and addresses of those writing are considered confidential.

View list of adult prison addresses and main phone numbers

Letters of support or opposition of an incarcerated individual’s upcoming Board proceeding or review can also be sent directly to the Board at BPH.CorrespondenceUnit@cdcr.ca.gov or to our address at: 

Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA  95812-4036
Telephone:  916-445-4072

There is no requirement to send a hard copy via standard mail if the communication is sent to our email address.

Parole Suitability Hearing Resources