The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole is tasked by State statute with determining how long an offender is incarcerated and on probation or parole. The board consists of five full-time and five part-time members. Board members are appointed by the Governor, with confirmation from the Legislature. Members generally possess expertise in areas of law, corrections and mental health. The board is a separate entity from the Department of Corrections and makes its decisions independently, though Corrections employees supply the board with information about offenders.
Utah uses indeterminate sentencing, which means sentences are set for a time range rather than a specific time period. The sentence for an offender who commits a 3rd-degree felony, for example, may range from 0 to 5 years.
The board decides when to release an offender as well as any conditions of parole the offender must abide by if released prior to completing a sentence. The board has the authority to pardon, commute or reduce sentences; impose restitution, fines and forfeitures; issue arrest warrants for parole violations; impose sanctions for parole violations; revoke parole and return parolees to prison; and conduct evidentiary hearings.
Within six months of commitment to prison, the board will set an original hearing date for an offender. One exception: inmates who are sentenced to death or life without parole by a court are not given an original hearing.
The following schedule shows how long an inmate typically serves before the board sets an original hearing:
3rd-degree felony (non-sex offense): 3 months
The board considers many factors when setting the length of a sentence, including: the nature of the offense; prior criminal history; institutional progress; any mental health or psychological evaluations; recommendations of the sentencing judge and prosecutor; and letters from the victim, family and other interested parties.
Board decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
There are board hearing rooms at the Utah State Prison and the Central Utah Correctional Facility. All board hearings are open to the public and anyone may attend provided they are allowed on prison property.
For more information about the Utah Board of Pardons, please visit www.bop.utah.gov or call 801-261-6464.