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Parole Changes for Foreign-Born Inmates

Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News
The new state law would mean more foreign-born Texan inmates would be eligible for parole if they are immediately deported.

A new law that took effect on September 1st may make it easier for foreign-born criminal offenders in Texas to meet parole eligibility requirements, if they are subsequently deported. The law, authored by Representative Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, is designed to ease the state’s financial burden by deporting non-citizens instead of supporting their parole.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin told KUT News that the total prison population in Texas as of August 31st was 156,000. Of that total, 9,408 are ICE detainees. An ICE detainee is an inmate who, once released on parole, would be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Rissie Owens is the Presiding Officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Owens noted that the Board of Pardons and Paroles is concerned that released foreign inmates may not actually be deported.

In an email statement released to KUT News, she wrote, “The Board has concerns that many of the incarcerated illegal criminal aliens they review for parole do not have final deportation orders and the Board cannot be sure that those they vote to release are actually deported and not released into our communities where they may be a threat to public safety.”

There have been reports that foreign inmates have been sending letters of appeal to various state officials, requesting a parole hearing. In response to this, Owens wrote, “The Board does not anticipate ‘letters’ requesting consideration nor ‘applications’ being part of the parole review process involving these cases. Incarcerated illegal criminal aliens are reviewed for parole when determined legally eligible for review, as are all other inmates in TDCJ.”

In her statement Owens indicated the Board of Pardons and Paroles will continue working and meeting with ICE and TDCJ officials, and members of Representative Madden’s staff to ensure all paroled offenders are successfully deported.