Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Recent Developments

First Page



The power to parole prisoners derives from the legislative power to define crimes and set penalties for offenses, and has been delegated by Congress and state legislatures to the federal and state parole boards.' Recent litigation of inmates' post-conviction rights in federal and state correctional systems has focused increasingly on the broad discretionary power that parole boards exercise by performing their statutory mandate... The recent development of a flexible concept of due process,' however, has permitted a finer balancing of governmental and individual interests than the prior requirement of a "full panoply" of procedural safeguards, or none at all, and has tolled the demise of the "right-privilege" constitutional law doctrine. In Morrissey v. Brewer," the Supreme Court held that parolees were entitled to limited procedural due process rights in United States Board of Parole proceedings to revoke parole. The Court rejected the concept that parole is a privilege, and stressed that both the government and the inmate have substantial interests in avoiding the "grievous loss" inflicted by premature parole termination. Lower courts recently have con-fronted the issue whether due process, under the Morrissey rationale, requires a statement of reasons for denial of parole... This Comment will analyze the status of due process and statutory rights in federal parole release hearings in light of these post-Morrissey decisions and suggest a rationale that may allow more consistent results in adjudication of future questions of due process rights in parole release proceedings.