Q: WHAT CAN A VICTIM OR FAMILY MEMBER OF A VICTIM DO TO ENSURE THEY WILL BE NOTIFIED WHEN AN OFFENDER COMES UP FOR PAROLE CONSIDERATION?
A: The District Attorney’s Office is tasked with victim notification by statute. The victims also have a “Victim’s Bill of Rights”. In addition, the State of Oklahoma has a victim notification hotline system called VINE which will assist victims. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections also has a victim notification program that notifies interested parties when an offender moves to a different Facility or discharges their sentence and leaves prison.
The Parole Board does not automatically know who the victims or the victim’s representatives are or where they are located. However, a victim or the victim’s representative can request to be placed on the victim notification register. To do this the victim or the victim’s representative needs to contact the Parole Board Administrative Office and request the victim notification form, then fill it out and return it to the Parole Board Administrative Office to the Victim Coordinator. Once a victim is on file with the Victim Coordinator, approximately twenty (20) days prior to the offender’s parole consideration date, the registered victim will receive a letter from the Parole Board Victim Coordinator advising them of the time, date, and place of the parole hearing. See Title 57 O.S. §332.2. A victim or the victim’s representative may enroll in both the Parole Board and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections programs by completing one form. The Parole Board sends out approximately 150 notification letters per month.
Q: WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR A VICTIM OR VICTIM’S REPRESENTATIVE TO ATTEND A PAROLE BOARD MEETING?
A: Victims or victim’s representatives who are protesting an offender’s parole release, regardless of whether the offender will be jacket reviewed or will make a personal appearance, they should go to the Hillside Community Corrections Center. Victims or victim’s representatives must obtain a confirmation number by calling the Parole Board Administrative Office at (405) 602-5863. Victims or victim’s representatives are allowed five (5) minutes to make their presentation to the Parole Board.
Q: IF A VICTIM PROTESTS A PAROLE, IS THAT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL?
A: Yes, the victim’s name, address, the fact that they are protesting an offender’s parole and any letters that are sent to either the Parole Board Members or to the Parole Board Administrative Office are kept confidential.
However, if the victim chooses to attend the Parole Board Meeting in person, as the meeting is a public and open meeting and subject to the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act, the protest at the meeting is considered a public record and is therefore no longer confidential.
Q: DOES WRITING LETTERS TO THE PAROLE BOARD MEMBERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
A: Writing a letter may or may not influence the decision that is made by the Parole Board. However, the Parole Board welcomes input so that the decisions they make are informed ones with all available information before them. Support and protest letters are provided to the Parole Board Members and to the Governor (for violent offense process) and are available during the parole review process.