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Examining the different forms of release under Tennessee law

While most people understandably believe that a conviction on any type of criminal charges will automatically require them to serve a full sentence behind bars, this isn't always the reality. Indeed, the law here in Tennessee provides for several different types of release whereby a person can be freed from incarceration subject to varying degrees of supervision.

In today's post, the first in a series, we'll begin to examine some of these differing forms of release starting with the one that is perhaps the most familiar: parole.

It's important to understand that if a person is considered eligible for parole, it means they are currently in prison and have already served some portion of their sentence. Indeed, to be granted parole means that an inmate is cleared for release to the community by the Board of Parole and that the Department of Correction will conduct the necessary monitoring.

The granting of parole is often made contingent on the inmate satisfying certain pre-parole conditions that are believed to improve their chances of success once outside the walls of the prison. To illustrate, the inmate may be required to attend a certain number of classes teaching important life skills or group therapy sessions.

Similarly, the granting of parole is often made contingent on an inmate satisfying certain post-parole conditions. This might include establishing and maintaining a residence at a halfway house where they can be monitored more carefully, or submitting to substance use assessments.

Failure to abide by the conditions established by the BOP will be considered a parole violation, meaning inmates may find themselves back behind bars and serving out the remainder of their prison sentence.

We will continue to examine the different types of release, including probation, the Community Corrections Program and determinate release, in future posts.

In the meantime, if you've been convicted of a lower level felony or misdemeanor -- theft, drug offenses, DUI, etc. -- please understand that you have options. An experienced legal professional can explain these options, protect your rights and pursue alternatives to incarceration.

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