On October 31, 2017 while everyone was prepping for the evenings Halloween fun, I was attending my son’s parole hearing. It was the first either of us have ever been through so the nerves leading up to the day were rough for both of us, but I’m sure more for him than I. I visited Patrick the evening before the hearing. We had a nice visit and were both quite relaxed by that point. We were as prepared as possible.
The parole hearing was scheduled at 8:30 am, so McLeod House, the bed and breakfast where I was staying in Newberry was kind enough to fix breakfast for me a bit earlier than normal. This was nice, as I was able to attend with a satisfied appetite. When I arrived at the prison I had to go through the normal security check procedures used when visiting a prisoner.
The hearing was being conducted by video, with Patrick and I seated side-by-side at a table and the gentleman from the parole board on two-way video with us. We could only see part of his face, but we could tell he was inputting information into a computer, reading information on Patrick, and forming his questions as he went.
This was surprising to me. I expected them to have a written list of questions they went by, but that was not the case. Obviously each parole hearing is conducted “on the fly” so to speak, with questions tailored specifically to each individual person and new questions arising based on the answers the parole board member receives.
When I arrived the parole board member asked if I had ever attended a parole hearing before, and when I told him I had not he explained that for the majority of the hearing he would be talking to Patrick and I was to sit quietly and listen, and I was not to help Patrick with his answers, nudge him, kick him under the table, or in any other way influence his answers. At the end I would be given an opportunity to speak.
The gentleman covered my Patrick’s crimes, asked him some questions, and then asked me what I thought about his crimes. That was a question I had not anticipated and all I can hope is my reaction/answer satisfied what he was looking for. When given the opportunity I also stated that I have room for Patrick to stay with me, a car he can use, etc. However given the nervousness of the situation I know I forgot part of what I intended to say.
The hearing took approximately thirty minutes. When it was over we were advised it may take weeks or months to hear a decision. Patrick has one required class he will be finished with in a couple weeks, and we anticipate they may wait until he has completed that before issuing a decision. Hopefully it is not too long.
There is no visiting once the hearing is complete. I was able to hug him goodbye and then I left the prison. His earliest parole date is March 19, 2018, so there is plenty of time between now and then. Hopefully the decision is made quickly so we know the situation. It is in the parole boards hands so all we can do is wait.