Serves as a Quasi-Judicial Body
The Commission on Offender Review performs a vital role in Florida’s criminal justice system by preserving the autonomy needed in post release decisions affecting inmates and ex-offenders. The Commission functions as a quasi-judicial body.
Commissioners preside over approximately 36 hearings annually at the Central Office in Tallahassee and, various other locations throughout the state as required by statute. During these public proceedings, the Commissioners make a variety of determinations regarding parole and other releases. In addition, the Commission reviews releasees’ supervision status every two years.
Every parole-eligible inmate has a constitutionally protected right to proper consideration for parole, and these proceedings must be conducted as required by law. In both parole and conditional medical release, testimony and pertinent information may be provided by representatives of the inmate, the inmate’s family, by persons who were victims of the crime, and the victim’s family. This proceeding is often the first opportunity for a victim, or family member, of a victim to provide input in a non-adversarial venue. If parole is granted, the Commissioners will address victim restitution issues as well as special conditions needed to ensure the protection of the citizens in our state and the successful re-entry of the offender into society. The Commissioners may also hear from law enforcement, state and private attorneys, as well as other interested parties.
During hearings, the Commission also conducts other types of proceedings, such as imposing conditions of conditional release or addiction recovery supervision. The Commission makes final determinations with regard to revocation of post release supervision, where a releasee may have violated the conditions of their release. When the Commission determines that the releasee is guilty of a willful and substantial violation, the Commission may order the violator returned to state prison to complete service of the original term of imprisonment.
The Commission serves as a cost-saving mechanism for the taxpayers of the State of Florida. The Commission saves taxpayer dollars by conducting revocation hearings for post release supervision violators in informal surroundings conducted before a parole examiner, and usually held at a county jail, with witnesses to the violation providing the pertinent testimony. The United States Supreme Court has fully sanctioned the state’s use of these less costly proceedings, with limited due process requirements. Probation revocation hearings, by contrast, require that proceedings be conducted in a courtroom before a judge, with an assistant state attorney prosecuting the case, and generally an appointed public defender representing the offender, plus all other expenses attendant to a criminal proceeding, at much greater expense to the state.