Once a month, the Iowa Board of Parole meets to decide which inmates in Iowa's prisons can be released on parole.
Inmates are given a risk assessment number, according to the Board of Parole's official rules, which determine if they are eligible for release. This number refers to the likelihood of the inmate committing another offense upon release.
Official rules state inmates with an assessment number between one and six can go in front of the board to be selected for parole. If three members believe the inmate is eligible, that person will be released from prison and put on parole.
From there, it's up to the individual county to supervise the parolee, according to Robin Allbee, supervisor of the Webster County probation and parole office.
"When they come out, they either go through the work release center or it's just straight parole," Allbee said. "Once they come out to parole, we look at their case and they're assigned a parole officer, who then meets with them to look at the rules the parole board has set up for them."
Allbee said while the parole board sets up the rules, parole officers can also create their own rules for their client.
"There are a lot more rules depending on the level of supervision," she said. "It could be anything from home confinement with a GPS to meeting with their clients anywhere from daily to once a month."
Allbee said the Webster County parole office does its own risk assessment to determine the level of parole necessary.
"We have some flexibility to make decisions because the parole board can put in stipulations such as not allowing someone to drive," she said. "In that case we have to re-enforce the rule that they can't drive. If they do drive, then it's a parole violation."
She said the penalty for a parole violation depends on the circumstances involved.
"If someone, for example, was on parole for drug charges and they were accused of using them, we could give them a substance abuse evaluation," Allbee said. "We try to refer them to the proper institution to help them deal with their situation."
Another possibility is being sent back to prison.
"Let's say you have somebody who was on parole for theft and they went and committed another one," Allbee said. "They're sent to the parole board, and they have an administrative law judge who makes the decision. We'll make our recommendation, and the parolee has the chance to present their side."
Allbee said while prison is one possibility, they could remain on parole with additional rules.
"There's just so many possibilities of what could happen," she said. "It all depends on the violation."
She said that in general they try to use the least restrictive punishment possible, but other times that's unavoidable.
"Sometimes it means going back to prison, but sometimes it doesn't," Allbee said. "It could also mean stepping up how many times we see that person, to home confinement, to full-blown probation revocation."
Allbee said the length of parole depends on the original sentence.
"Some people come out of work release who have two months left or some could have years left," she said. "Some could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison and when they get out, they'll still have 10 years on parole."