Parole is early release from prison under conditions imposed by the South Carolina Department of Probation Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS) [1]. In South Carolina, an independent seven-member board decides whether to grant parole after a preliminary investigation and a brief hearing via video-conferencing.

A prisoner does not have a right to parole, but our statutes provide that parole hearings must be held, either every year or every two years, depending on the offense, for certain crimes. Whether a person is eligible for parole is based on the law existing at the time of the offense. In 1996, many crimes were made “non-parolable” meaning the person will not get a parole hearing and must serve eighty-five percent of his sentence before being released.

If you are not sure if you or your family member is eligible for parole, you can check on the South Carolina Department of Corrections [2] website to see if a person is parole.

If you or your family member is coming up for parole, it is beneficial to retain a lawyer to represent you at the parole hearing. The earlier the better so that the best possible case for parole can be presented.

Eleanor Duffy Cleary has ten years of experience representing clients before the parole board. This experience has provided insight into how to best present your case.

Attorney Cleary will visit you at the institution and obtain as much as information about you as possible, including your records from SCDC. We present a bound and printed packet of information two weeks prior to your hearing to try to show the parole board that you have been rehabilitated and are ready to be released. This takes time to properly prepare so the earlier you retain us the better.

The parole packet we submit includes, at a minimum:
  • A cover letter explaining why you should be granted parole, based on the factors listed below, and personal observations of Attorney Cleary from visiting with you in prison
  • A letter from you explaining why you think you should be paroled.
  • Letters of recommendation from family and friends in the community. These must be dated within six months of the parole hearing and must include address and telephone number of the writer. They must specifically state that they recommend you be released on parole.
  • A letter from the person with whom you will live if you are released, verifying you have a place to live and where it is.
  • A letter verifying you have a job if you are released.
  • Copies of the certificates you have received during incarceration.
  • Photographs of you with family that you had taken in prison or on the outside.
  • Photographs of the place you will be living.
  • Other relevant information.

These are the factors that the Parole Board considers in deciding whether to grant parole.

  • The risk that the offender poses to the community;
  • The nature and seriousness of the offender’s offense, the circumstances surrounding that offense, and the prisoner’s attitude toward it;
  • The offender’s prior criminal record and adjustment under any previous programs of supervision;
  • The offender’s attitude toward family members, the victim, and authority in general;
  • The offender’s adjustment while in confinement, including his progress in counseling, therapy, and other similar programs designed to encourage the prisoner to improve himself;
  • The offender’s employment history, including his job training and skills and his stability in the workplace;
  • The offender’s physical, mental, and emotional health;
  • The offender’s understanding of the causes of his past criminal conduct;
  • The offender’s efforts to solve his problems;
  • The adequacy of the offender’s overall parole plan, including his proposed residence and employment;
  • The willingness of the community into which the offender will be paroled to receive that offender;
  • The willingness of the offender’s family to allow the offender, if he is paroled, to return to the family circle;
  • The opinion of the sentencing judge, the solicitor, and local law enforcement on the offender’s parole;
  • The feelings of the victim or the victim’s family, about the offender’s release;
  • Any other factors that the Board may consider relevant, including the recommendation of the parole examiner.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you are eligible to be considered for parole:
  • Prepare yourself for release by taking advantage of as many SCDC programs as you can.
  • Learn a marketable skill that will enable you to support yourself when you get out.
  • Work at a job in prison.
  • Keep a clean disciplinary record.
  • Keep in touch with your family so that you will have support if you are released.
  • If there was a victim in your case, take classes on victim impact. You need to have a deep understanding of the consequences your crime had on victims and their family.
  • Take as many classes as you can to learn more about yourself as a person. Take advantage of any counseling or group therapy that is available.
  • Review the list of criteria and make sure you are prepared for parole.
Here are some of the questions that the parole board has asked in the past:
  • Why do you think we should grant you parole?
  • What have you done to get ready for parole?
  • What are your goals?
  • Did you know the victim or the victim’s family?
  • What would you say to them if you could?
  • What would you do differently if you were in the same circumstances?
  • Why did you commit the crime?
  • What have you learned while you’ve been in prison?
  • What will be different if you are released?
  • Explain your recent disciplinary offenses.
  • Were drugs and alcohol involved in your crime?
    • If so, are you drug-free now?
    • How long have you been drug and alcohol-free?
    • What treatment have you had?
    • How will you prevent relapse on the outside?

Contact online or Call us today so we can start preparing you or your loved one for parole.