In Maryland, parole is the conditional early release of a prisoner from confinement. It is not the same as "good time," which is the unconditional early release of a prisoner who has served a portion of his or her sentence without incurring any major disciplinary charges. After a prisoner has served a portion of his or her sentence in a correctional facility, he or she may be eligible to apply for parole. The prisoner will then be scheduled to appear before a parole board, or a panel of officials who will review his or her case and decide whether or not parole should be granted.
If parole is not granted at the hearing, the prisoner may request another hearing at a later date.
If parole is granted, the prisoner may be released to a halfway house before being completely released. A halfway house is a residential facility. If the prisoner is employed, he or she may be released during the day to work, returning to facility each night. The purpose of the halfway house is to allow the prisoner to adjust to the freedom and also the challenges of civilian life.
Once his or her term in the halfway house is completed, the prisoner will be released and assigned a parole officer who will monitor his or her progress. In particular, the parole officer will be intrested in ensuring that the parolee maintains stable employment and a permanent address, and that he or she is able to avoid additional charges. If treatment by substance abuse is ordered -- and it is ordered in 70 to 80% of cases -- the parole office will want to see that the parolee is compliant with his or her treatment. The parolee will also have to pay any fines or restitution ordered by the court.
If the parole officer "violates" the parolee -- that is, if the parole officer determines that the parolee has not kept his or her end of the bargain, then the parole office will file a complaint with the court in which the parolee was originally convicted. The court will then schedule a "violation of parole hearing." A violation of parole hearing is technically a civil matter, which means that the stringent constitutional safeguard do not apply. In order to find that a parolee has violated the terms of the parole, a judge will only have to use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard (roughly, a fifty-one per cent chance that the charges are true), rather than the much more stringent standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" (roughly a ninety-five per cent chance). .
For this reason, and many other reasons, it is important the anbody charged with a violation of parole in Maryland engage the services of a Maryland violation of parole lawyer.