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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 133A: Eligibility for parole; notice and hearing; parole permits; revision of terms and conditions; revocation; arrest; right to counsel and funds for expert

Section 133A. Every prisoner who is serving a sentence for life in a correctional institution of the commonwealth, except prisoners confined to the hospital at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Bridgewater, except prisoners serving a life sentence for murder in the first degree who had attained the age of 18 years at the time of the murder and except prisoners serving more than 1 life sentence arising out of separate and distinct incidents that occurred at different times, where the second offense occurred subsequent to the first conviction, shall be eligible for parole at the expiration of the minimum term fixed by the court under section 24 of chapter 279. The parole board shall, within 60 days before the expiration of such minimum term, conduct a public hearing before the full membership unless a member of the board is determined to be unavailable as provided in this section. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, the board may postpone a hearing until 30 days before the expiration of such minimum term, if the interests of justice so require and upon publishing written findings of the necessity for such postponement. For the purposes of this section, the term unavailable shall mean that a board member has a conflict of interest to the extent that he cannot render a fair and impartial decision or that the appearance of a board member would be unduly burdensome because of illness, incapacitation, or other circumstance. Whether a member is unavailable for the purposes of this section shall be determined by the chair. Board members shall appear unless said chair determines them to be unavailable. Under no circumstances shall a parole hearing proceed pursuant to this section unless a majority of the board is present at the public hearing. Unless a board member is unavailable due to a conflict of interest, any board member who was not present at the public hearing shall review the record of the public hearing and shall vote in the matter.

Said board shall at least thirty days before such hearing notify in writing the attorney general, the district attorney in whose district sentence was imposed, the chief of police or head of the organized police department of the municipality in which the crime was committed and the victims of the crime for which sentence was imposed, and said officials and victims may appear in person or be represented or make written recommendations to the board, but failure of any or all of said officials to appear or make recommendations shall not delay the paroling procedure; provided, however, that no hearing shall take place until the parole board has certified in writing that it has complied with the notification requirements of this paragraph, a copy of which shall be included in the record of such proceeding; and provided further, that this paragraph shall also apply to any parole hearing for an applicant who was convicted of a crime listed in clause (i) of subsection (b) of section 25 of chapter 279 and sentenced and committed to prison for 5 or more years for such crime and does not show that a pardon has been issued for the crime.

After such hearing the parole board may, by a vote of two-thirds of its members, grant to such prisoner a parole permit to be at liberty upon such terms and conditions as it may prescribe for the unexpired term of his sentence. If such permit is not granted, the parole board shall, at least once in each ensuing five year period, consider carefully and thoroughly the merits of each such case on the question of releasing such prisoner on parole, and may, by a vote of two-thirds of its members, grant such parole permit.

Such terms and conditions may be revised, altered and amended, and may be revoked, by the parole board at any time. The violation by the holder of such permit or any of its terms or conditions, or of any law of the commonwealth, may render such permit void, and thereupon, or if such permit has been revoked, the parole board may order his arrest and his return to prison, in accordance with the provisions of section one hundred and forty-nine.

If a prisoner is indigent and is serving a life sentence for an offense that was committed before the prisoner reached 18 years of age, the prisoner shall have the right to have appointed counsel at the parole hearing and shall have the right to funds for experts pursuant to chapter 261.