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A Deeper Look Into Discretionary Mandatory Supervision

When answering questions regarding parole issues, I am frequently asked to discuss what is Discretionary Mandatory Supervision (DMS). 


DMS is the legislatively mandated release of a prisoner to parole supervision when the combination of actual calendar time and good conduct time EQUAL the sentence.  Most offenders are eligible for parole before they are eligible for DMS.


Although not technically correct, you can think of DMS as an “extra review” after a client has served half of their sentence (assuming they have a clean disciplinary history).


Discretionary Mandatory Supervision is also referred to as Mandatory Supervision, Projected Release Date, and “Short Way”.


So why is it called Discretionary Mandatory Supervision?


When first introduced, all offenders were eligible for DMS.  Over time, the legislature added offenses that made you ineligible for DMS.  In the beginning, as long as you were eligible, you knew you would be released on a certain date, usually about half of your sentence (if you were not routinely in disciplinary trouble).  Then in 1996, Mandatory Supervision became "discretionary".


Prior to September 1, 1996, all offenses eligible for Mandatory Supervision were actually released when their calendar time and good time equaled their sentence.  After September 1, 1996, the Discretionary part kicked in.  That is the Board could deny the release of an inmate if they could show two things:


1.The offender's good conduct time is not an accurate reflection of the offender's potential for rehabilitation &

2.The offender's release would endanger the public.


Government Code 508.149 lists the offenses for which DMS will not apply.  That is, if you are currently serving a sentence for or have EVER been convicted of these offenses, you will not be eligible for DMS.  This list changes every legislative session so always be sure to check for updates.


Current offenses for which DMS will not apply:

Agg. Assault, 1st or 2nd Degree

Agg. Kidnapping, 1st or 2nd Degree

Agg. Robbery, 1st or 2nd Degree

Agg. Sex Assault, 1st Degree

Any case with a finding of Deadly Weapon

Arson

Burg. of Habitation, 1st Degree

Capital Murder

Compelling Prostitution

Criminal Solicitation, 1st Degree

Continuous Sex Abuse of Child

Indecency with a Child by Contact

Injury to a Child, 1st Degree

Murder, 1st or 2nd Degree

Robbery, 2nd Degree

Sexual Assault

Sexual Performance by a Child

Trafficking of Persons, 20A.03 & 20A.02

Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity/Directing Street Gangs

A felony Increased under H&SC (Drug-Free Zones & Use of Child in Commission of Offense)


The best way to think about DMS is the following scenario.  Let's say a DMS eligible offender receives an 8 year prison sentence.  (This means he/she is not currently serving a sentence for nor has ever been convicted of a 508.149 offense.)  The offender will be voted by the Board for release on parole after approximately 1 year.  That offender, if not granted parole, will be voted again in the future by the Board for release on parole.  Once the offender is nearing the "half-way" point in their sentence they will be voted by the Board for DMS (assuming they maintain good disciplinary status).   If denied DMS, then they will continue to be voted on by the Board for DMS on future Board votes.


Offenders who are eligible for DMS are required to be given written notice of their review and 30 days notice to send in supporting documents to the Parole Board.  This is required for every person who is nearing a vote for DMS.  Although it is unlikely, if the Board fails to act before the DMS eligibility date, the offender must be released. 


(Please not that this is in contrast to Parole Eligibility Date (PED).  The Board MUST vote on a Mandatory Supervision eligible offender ON or BEFORE their DMS date.   However, the Board does not have to vote an offender BEFORE or ON their PED.  Please keep this in mind when your friend or loved one is not voted before their PED.   The Board can and many times does vote cases after the PED.)


A final note regarding DMS.  Even though an offender who is released to DMS is still supervised by a parole officer there is one important distinction that must be mentioned prior to release.  An offender who is eligible for DMS, cannot be required to participate in a program as a condition of release


Let me explain, when someone is going through review for parole, they can be required to complete a program while still incarcerated as a condition of being released on parole.  However, for DMS it is different.  If the Parole Board votes to release an offender for DMS, it is simply a "Yes" or "No" vote.  They cannot impose a condition PRIOR to being released.  They can however, require special conditions AFTER being released into the community.


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