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L. Parole board meetings, or meetings involving parole board decisions

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  • Alaska

    Parole board meetings are specifically exempted by the OMA, see AS 44.62.310(d)(3), as are meetings of "pardon boards." Alaska does not have a group formally denominated a "pardon board." However, the governor's executive clemency advisory committee clearly does the work of a pardon board. It reviews applications for clemency and investigative records produced by the parole board, and makes recommendations to the governor regarding pardons, commutations of sentences, and remissions of fines or forfeitures. The Attorney General has advised the committee, therefore, that it may meet privately, without public notice or participation. See April 20, 1987, Attorney General Opinion No. 663-87-0436. (Note that the Attorney General has advised further that while certain portions of applications for executive clemency may be withheld from public inspection, the application generally should be treated as a public document available for inspection, including the fact that a criminal has applied for some form of clemency and the crime or crimes of which the applicant was convicted, the sentence received, and so forth.) Before granting executive clemency to an applicant for executive clemency, the governor must disclose in writing to the attorney general whether granting the clemency would benefit a personal or financial interest of the governor. The attorney general must publish a written determination whether granting executive clemency to the applicant would violate the Executive Branch Ethics Act. The written determination of the attorney general is not confidential, but information set out in that determination identifying a person, other than the applicant for clemency, who is a victim or witness in a criminal matter may not be made public.  AS 39.52.225.

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  • Arizona

    They are subject to OML.  When meetings are held within a prison facility, however, the director of the department of corrections may restrict access in the following ways:

    1. Prohibit, on written findings that are made public within five days of so finding, any person from attending a hearing whose attendance would constitute a serious threat to the life or physical safety of any person or to the safe, secure and orderly operation of the prison.
    2. Require a person who attends a hearing to sign an attendance log.  If the person is over sixteen years of age, the person shall produce photographic identification which verifies the person’s signature.
    3. Prevent and prohibit any articles from being taken into a hearing except recording devices, and if the person who attends a hearing is a member of the media, cameras.
    4. Require that a person who attends a hearing submit to a reasonable search on entering the facility.

    A.R.S. § 38-431.08(B).

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  • Arkansas

    The Post Prison Transfer Board must conduct open meetings and make public its findings for each inmate eligible for parole. However, the board’s interviews with inmates may be closed to the public. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-93-615(a)(4)(A) (codified by Act 570 of 2011, formerly Ark. Code Ann. § 16-93-206(a)).

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  • California

    Under the Bagley-Keene Act, a state body may hold a closed session to consider and act upon the determination of a term, parole, release or other disposition of a prison inmate. Cal. Gov't Code § 11126(c)(4).

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  • Colorado

    Open, unless the state board of parole by two-thirds vote of membership present at the meeting elects to proceed in executive session to consider matters connected with any parole proceedings under its jurisdiction. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-6-402(3)(c). However, no final parole decisions may be made by the board while in executive session.

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  • Connecticut

    There are no specific provisions or exemptions in FOIA on this issue. There are also no reported court decisions on this issue.

    An executive session may be allowed if an open session would result in the disclosure of exempt records. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-200(6)(E). See Records Outline at II.A.2 and IV.

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  • Delaware

    Parole board meetings are closed. 29 Del. C. § 10004(h)(5).

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    The Act does not apply to deliberations and voting of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.  O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(a)(2). In addition, the board may close meetings convened to receive information or evidence for or against clemency or in revocation proceedings, but only if the board determines that receipt of such information or evidence in an open meeting would present a substantial risk of harm or injury to a witness. Id. Hearings conducted by or on behalf of the board are required to be public. O.C.G.A. § 42-9-53(d).

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  • Hawaii

    The Hawaii Paroling Authority is among the seven enumerated agencies that exercise adjudicatory functions exempting meetings for these purposes from the open meetings law. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-6(a)(2).

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  • Idaho

    The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole is accorded limited exemption from this provision of the Open Meeting Law. Idaho Code § 74-206(1)(g). While their meetings are generally open, deliberations and decisions concerning paroles can be made in executive session and the votes of individual parole board members on such decisions shall not be made public. Idaho Code § 20-213A(1)(a). But the public may obtain overall vote tallies of Commission decisions. Idaho Code § 20-213A(2).

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  • Illinois

    The Act exempts only deliberations for decisions of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. See 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(18).

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  • Indiana

    Parole board meetings are presumptively open because no exemption under Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-6.1(b) applies.

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  • Iowa

    Corrections information is confidential. Iowa Code § 246.602(2). Meetings to discuss records which are confidential need not be held in public. Iowa Code § 21.5(1)(a). But see 76 Op. Att'y Gen. 415 (January 21, 1976) (Board of Parole subject to chapter 28A — now chapter 21).

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  • Kansas

    These are arguably closed since the parole board performs a quasi-judicial function, but practice in Kansas has been to allow public access where requested in advance. Tacha, The Kansas Open Meeting Act; Sunshine on the Sunflower State?, 25 U. Kans. L. Rev. 169, 183 (1977).

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  • Kentucky

    "Deliberations for decisions of the Kentucky Parole Board" may be closed. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.810(1)(a). There are two other phases to parole release hearings. The victim's hearing may be closed at the discretion of the victim. Ky. Rev. Stat. 439.340(8). The interview and discussion with the prisoner must be a public session. 92-142.

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  • Louisiana

    Not exempted by the Open Meeting Law. See Hoffpauir v. State, Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections, 762 So. 2d 1219 (La. App. 1st Cir.), writ denied, 772 So. 2d 652 (La. 2000). A 1996 statute, however, gives the Parole Board the ability to promulgate its own "rules, regulations, policy and guidelines governing the disclosure and dissemination of information regarding sex offenders to the public." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:547. This statute may be invoked to create additional "exceptions" to the Open Meeting Law.

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  • Maine

    Public, unless the board is discussing its investigation of an application for a pardon, reprieve or commutation, or its recommendation to the governor on such application. 5 M.R.S.A. § 9052; 34-A M.R.S.A. § 5210(4)(C).

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  • Maryland

    Because a parole board exercises an executive or quasi-judicial function, it is not required to open its meeting. 65 Op. Att'y Gen. 341 (Md. 1980).

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  • Massachusetts

    Except for individuals serving life sentences, parole hearings are not open to the public. G.L. c. 127, § l33A. 120 300:02(2), 301.01(1).

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  • Michigan

    Not subject to OMA. Glover v. Michigan Parole Board, supra.

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  • Montana

    Open, according to the Montana Constitution, only an individual right to privacy that passes the test trumps the public’s right to know. Discretionary disclosure based on “best interests” or “desirable or helpful” fail to withstand constitutional scrutiny. Wordan v. Mt. Board of Pardons and Parole, 289 Mont. 459, 962 P.2d 1157 (1998), Bozeman Daily Chronicle v. City of Bozeman Police Dept., 260 Mont. 218, 859 P.2d 435 (1993).

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  • Nebraska

    No specific exemption. However, the privacy exemption might apply. See Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-1410(1). The Nebraska Attorney General has opined that parole hearings before the Nebraska Parole Board are quasi-judicial proceedings that are not subject to the Open Meetings Act. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 63065 (7-27-93).

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  • New Hampshire

    There is no case law on this issue but such matters would probably support a nonpublic session. See RSA 91-A:5, IV.

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  • New Jersey

    The parole board or any agency or body acting in a parole capacity is specifically exempted from coverage by the Sunshine Law, N.J.S.A. 10:4-8a, and therefore all meetings regarding parole matters may be held in closed session.

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  • New Mexico

    Presumably open.  No specific statutory exemption exists under the Open Meetings Act or NMSA 1978 § 14-2-1, but an Attorney General's Opinion, 1955-1956 Op. Atty Gen. 6509, suggests that the parole board is obligated to avoid a disclosure of any "social record."  (Opinion rendered under previous versions of the Open Meetings and Inspection of Public Records Act.  See, e.g., NMSA 1978 §31-21-6, which suggests all "social records" including presentence reports, pre-parole reports, and supervision histories are confidential.)

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  • North Carolina

    The Open Meetings Law contains no exemption or other specific provision relating to the North Carolina Board of Paroles.

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  • North Dakota

    All parole records of the department of corrections and rehabilitation obtained in the discharge of official duty by any member of the parole board or employee of a division or department of the department of corrections and rehabilitation on behalf of the parole board are not open. N.D.C.C. § 12-59-04. An application for parole and the decision of the parole board on the application are open records. N.D.C.C. § 12-59-04.

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  • Ohio

    Parole board meetings are exempt from the open meetings statute. Ohio Rev. Code § 5149.101. There is no authority for exempting meetings about parole board decisions held by other bodies.

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  • Oklahoma

    The Board of Corrections is covered by the act as matter of law because of its statutory origin. Sanders v. Benton, 1978 OK 53, 579 P.2d 815. Procedure of Pardon and Parole board members to cast their votes by mail contravenes the act. 1980 OK AG 144.

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  • Oregon

    These are specifically exempt from requirements of the Public Meetings Law. ORS 192.690(1).

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific exemption.  May be covered by exemption (4), which includes all investigative proceedings regarding allegations of civil or criminal misconduct, although parole board hearings are not normally “investigative.”

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  • South Carolina

    A parole board could hold an executive session to discuss a parole matter, but in practice these discussions are public.

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  • South Dakota

    Regular meetings and meetings to hear parole applications are open. SDCL§§ 24-13-4 and 24-13-6.

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  • Tennessee

    The enabling statute of the Board of Paroles does not require that parole decisions be made by meeting, and therefore the Open Meetings Act does not apply to the board's procedure for making parole decisions. Arnold v. Tennessee Board of Paroles, 956 S.W.2d 478 (Tenn. 1997). But when the board does meet, proper notice of the meetings is required. Id. Also see T.C.A. § 40-28-105(b) (requiring that meetings of the board of paroles be conducted with notice and public ballots or public roll calls). See also Smith v. Harter, 20 TAM 8-35(Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 1995) (definition of "meeting" not so broad as to cover any alleged discussion among parole board members); Op. Att'y Gen. No. 95-10, 20 TAM 12-59 (March 3, 1995) (requests to members of Board of Paroles to involve parolees as informants in investigations is subject to the Act).

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  • Texas

    Meetings of the Board of Pardons and Paroles may be closed pursuant to Section 551.080 if they are held “to interview or counsel an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.” Tex. Gov’t Code. §551.080.

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  • Utah

    Proceedings of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole are subject to the Open Meetings Act. Andrews v. Utah Bd. of Pardons, 836 P.2d 790, 792-93 (Utah 1992). Although Board hearings, during which information is gathered, are open to the public, deliberations may be closed. Id.

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  • Vermont

    Closed only if meeting involves testimony by person who could suffer physical or other harm as a result of public disclosure of identity. 1 V.S.A. § 313(a)(8).

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  • Virginia

    The Parole Board is not subject to the Act. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3703.A.1.

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  • Washington

    The state Board of Prison Terms and Paroles has adopted rules stating that all Board proceedings are open to the public, unless the Board states on the record “a good cause” for denying access to observers, including members of the press.

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  • West Virginia

    The Open Meetings Act does not specifically authorize the closure of parole board meetings. Although parole board proceedings might arguably fall within W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4(7), it is more likely that the courts would not apply that exception in such circumstances. Moreover, the state Supreme Court narrowed the scope of a similar exemption under the Freedom of Information Act in Hechler v. Casey, 175 W. Va. 434, 333 S.E.2d 799 (1985). Further, to the extent that the parole board exercises quasi-judicial functions, its proceedings are subject to the constitutional open courts mandate.

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  • Wyoming

    A governing body of an agency may hold closed executive session when considering and acting upon the term, parole, or release of an individual from a correctional or penal institution. Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-405(a)(vi) (1977, Rev. 1982).

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