Private Counsel – Parole Advocacy Unit

ABOUT THE PAROLE ADVOCACY UNIT

The Parole Advocacy Unit of the Private Counsel Division works to bolster successful reentry through advancing the rights of people who have the opportunity for parole and medical parole release. Responsible for assigning all parole and medical parole cases across the Commonwealth, the unit trains and supports specialized attorneys. The unit also screens cases in order to ensure that all those who have a right to counsel have access to a lawyer. That group includes juvenile lifers, certain people facing parole revocation, and prisoners with disabilities who require assistance to access a fair hearing.

DIRECTOR
Mara Voukydis, Esq.
617-482-6212

STAFF COUNSEL
Nicole Ouellette, Esq.
617-482-6212

LEGAL FELLOW
Cameron Casey, Esq.
617-482-6212

Administrative Assistant III
Sadia Ahmad
617-482-6212

How to Get Help
Incarcerated, formerly incarcerated people, and their loved ones can reach the Parole Advocacy Unit by calling CPCS’s main 617-482-6212 and asking for the parole unit. People who are not incarcerated can also email the unit at parole@publiccounsel.net

Letters can be sent to:

The Parole Advocacy Unit
Private Counsel Division
Committee for Public Counsel Services
75 Federal Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Who We Can Help

The CPCS Parole Advocacy Unit currently assigns and supports lawyers in cases involving a right to counsel for parole, which currently includes the following groups of individuals:

  • Juvenile Lifers: People sentenced to life who committed the crime when they were juveniles (currently defined as under 18 years of age)
  • People with serious disabilities or access challenges referred by the Parole Board: People referred to CPCS by the Parole Board due to reasons of serious physical, mental, or cognitive disability, language access needs, or inability to read or write
  • Pending revocations referred by the Parole Board: People referred to CPCS by the Parole Board due to a pending parole revocation proceeding
  • Medical parole and medical parole revocation: Medical parole representation begins with a screening assignment and, where screened in, continues through the submission of a medical parole petition and representation upon denial of the petition, if necessary.
  • Disciplinary Hearings: In some cases, a prisoner’s disciplinary matter may be referred to the District Attorney for potential criminal charges. The Parole Advocacy Unit assigns counsel where possible to ensure preservation of the prisoner’s rights in the administrative setting prior to arraignment.

Even though the scope appears limited, our unit can also screen the following types of cases for possible assignment:

  • People with serious disabilities, language access issues, or inability to read or write who have not been referred by the Parole Board but whose condition will affect their ability to participate meaningfully in their parole proceedings.
  • People facing parole revocation who have not been referred by the Parole Board but whose case meets the requirements set for in Gagnon v Scarpelli, namely they dispute the revocation or have other reasons for needing counsel to assist.
  • People convicted as juveniles but not sentenced to life, and people sentenced as “emerging adults”: while these cases are not assigned to private counsel, the Unit has limited staff capacity, thanks to a temporary legal fellowship, to handle a small caseload of emerging adult parole cases, which we have defined as age 18-25.
  • COVID related parole assignments- subject to change due to the unpredictable course of the pandemic
    • CPCS will screen and assign counsel to parole release or revocation cases wherein the individual has a pending parole need and is at high risk for serious complications from COVID. “Pending parole need” refers to someone who has a parole release hearing within the next four months, or who had been previously denied parole but has a strong case for a successful reconsideration. Examples of “high risk” include, but are not limited to:
      • Over 60 years old
      • Immunocompromised
      • Health conditions that increase the potential severity of the case
      • Ongoing, residual serious health issues resulting from a previous COVID-19 infection.
  • Litigation of parole matters beyond the Parole Board proceeding: Though generally unable to assign counsel for litigation outside of routine appeals for juvenile lifers, people with serious disabilities, and certain parole revocation matters, the Unit is available to discuss and at times screen potential legal challenges on other parole matters or issues that impact someone’s parole eligibility.

Advice and Consultation

Although generally unable to assign lawyers for other purposes, staff and parole mentor attorneys are also available to consult with incarcerated or paroled callers, their loved ones, and lawyers from all practice areas about all other parole related matters. In some cases, the Unit may be able to advocate briefly on behalf of the client to the Parole Board or the Department of Correction, or advise the attorney on how to do so. Consultation topics include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Mandatory Release to Supervision (RTS)
  • Sentencing and parole eligibility concerns
  • Classification issues
  • Parole Conditions
  • Delays in parole release
  • Home plan problems
  • Concerns about conditions of confinement

PAROLE PANELS

The Parole Advocacy Unit manages several parole-related panels:

  • Juvenile Lifer Parole Panel – attorneys represent clients sentenced to life as juveniles who are facing parole release proceedings
  • Parole Release and Revocation Panel – attorneys represent people with determinate sentences in the House of Correction or Department of Correction who are either facing parole revocation or who are disabled and require assistance with parole release proceedings.
  • Lifer Parole Release and Revocation Panel – attorneys represent people with sentences sentences in the House of Correction or Department of Correction who are either facing parole revocation or who are disabled and require assistance with parole release proceedings.
  • Medical Parole Panel – attorneys screen medical parole cases and in the event the client has been screened in, petitions the Department of Correction for release on compassionate grounds due to terminal illness or permanent incapacity. These cases are both lifer and nonlifer, with lifer cases available for qualified attorneys.
  • Disciplinary Hearings Panel – attorneys represent clients who have received disciplinary tickets that indicate that charges may be filed.

 

HOW TO APPLY

Link to application

PLEASE NOTE: Acceptance on the Juvenile Lifer Parole Panel, Lifer Parole Release Panel, and Medical Parole Panel (lifer cases) is contingent upon murder or murder appeals certification, or other comparable significant experience. Attorneys are welcome to contact the unit for more information about this.

TRAINING RESOURCES

Mygideon Parole Training Page – secure website accessible only to public defenders, both staff and private counsel, and related legal professionals. To request access please contact the unit.