2021 Tennessee Code
Title 40 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 35 - Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989
Part 5 - Release and Parole
§ 40-35-503. Authority to Determine Release Status of Felon — Grounds for Denying Release Status — Hearings — Parole Potential

Universal Citation: TN Code § 40-35-503 (2021)
  1. The board of parole has the authority to parole inmates with felony sentences of more than two (2) years or consecutive felony sentences equaling a term greater than two (2) years.

  2. Release on parole is a privilege and not a right, and no inmate convicted shall be granted parole if the board finds that:

    1. There is a substantial risk that the defendant will not conform to the conditions of the release program;

    2. The release from custody at the time would depreciate the seriousness of the crime of which the defendant stands convicted or promote disrespect for the law;

    3. The release from custody at the time would have a substantially adverse effect on institutional discipline; or

    4. The defendant's continued correctional treatment, medical care or vocational or other training in the institution will substantially enhance the defendant's capacity to lead a law-abiding life when given release status at a later time.

  3. No person convicted of a sex crime shall be released on parole unless a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist designated as a health service provider has examined and evaluated the inmate and certified that, to a reasonable medical certainty, the inmate does not pose the likelihood of committing sexual assaults upon release from confinement. The examination and evaluation shall be provided by psychiatrists or licensed psychologists designated as health service providers whose services are contracted or funded by the department of correction or the board of parole. The board shall consider any other evaluation by a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist designated as a health service provider that may be provided by the defendant.

    1. The board shall conduct a hearing within a reasonable time prior to a defendant's release eligibility date to determine a defendant's fitness for parole.

    2. At the hearing, the board shall permit the video testimony of the immediate family members of the victim of a defendant's criminal offense relative to the fitness of the defendant for parole, if the family members are unable to attend the hearing. The board may, by rule, establish reasonable guidelines as to what constitutes a family member being unable to attend a hearing.

  4. The board shall notify the district attorney general and the sentencing court or their successors of the eligibility hearing in the manner provided for in § 40-28-107(c).

  5. If the board determines that a defendant should be released on parole, it shall furnish reasons for that decision to the district attorney general who prosecuted the defendant, the chief law enforcement official of the agency that prosecuted the case and the judge who tried that defendant or to their successors, upon their request.

  6. In determining whether an inmate should be granted parole, the board shall consider as a factor the extent to which the inmate has attempted to improve the inmate's educational, vocational or employment skills through available department of correction programs while the inmate was incarcerated. The board shall have the right to deny parole to an inmate who has made no attempt to improve such skills while incarcerated.

  7. Notwithstanding subsection (b), there is a presumption that an inmate convicted of a Class E or Class D nonviolent felony offense, as defined in § 40-36-102, is to be released on parole upon the inmate reaching the inmate's release eligibility date unless good cause is shown as to why the inmate should not be released.
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