Special Conditions of State Parole: Conditions that apply ONLY to certain People on parole

Sometimes, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) or a parole agent may impose special parole conditions that add EXTRA limitations to a person’s life. This section explains when special conditions may be applied, and what rights you have against these conditions.

Who sets special parole conditions, and how do they decide?

CDCR and individual parole agents can require you to follow certain special conditions, which are special rules you must follow while on parole.[441]

If you are a “lifer” in California, or if you were released onto parole before July 1, 2013, or if you were charged with a parole violation before July 1, 2013,[442] then the BPH can require you to follow certain special parole conditions.[443]

If you are not a “lifer,” county Superior Court judges are now in charge of handling your parole conditions and revocations of your parole.[444] Superior Court judges may impose special parole conditions, but these special conditions must be “reasonably related” to your commitment offense (the offense for which you spent time in prison), your “criminogenic needs” (issues that affect your risk of recidivism, such as substance abuse, family ties, and social relationships), and your criminal history.[445]

Special conditions required by CDCR and/or your parole agent will depend on your individual circumstances, including your commitment offense, your criminogenic needs, your criminal history,[446] specific conditions required by law (called mandatory special condititions), and more. Your special conditions will be part of your parole plan, and they can change depending on how well you do on parole.[447] (See the next question to learn about what your parole plan is.)

  1. 441

    See CDCR Form 1515, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/BOPH/docs/CDCR1515_7-8-2010.pdf.

  2. 442

    Cal. Penal Code § 3053 et seq.

  3. 443

    Cal. Penal Code § 3000(b)(7).

  4. 444

    Cal. Penal Code § 3454-55.

  5. 445

    Cal. Penal Code § 3454(b).

  6. 446

    See, e.g., Int’l Community Corrections Assoc., Evidence Based Decision Making From Principle to Practice, ICCA Conference presentation, Sept. 2013, http://www.iccalive.org/icca/images/2013Presentations/2013%20national%20institute%20of%20corrections%20evidence%20based%20decision%20making%20panel.pdf.

  7. 447

    The Parole Reform Task Force, CDCR, Parole Reform in California: An Evidence-Based & Best Practices Approach (California Parole Reintegration Supervision Model Manual), 16, Jan. 15, 2010, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Road_Map/docs/CA_Parole_Reintegration_Supervision_Model_Manual.pdf.

What is my parole plan?

Your parole plan is an individualized plan to guide your supervision, which DAPO staff will prepare before your release, based on an individual evaluation of your strengths, needs, risk factors, and overall risk of reoffending. Your parole plan will include information identified in your evaluation —your strengths, needs, risk factors, and overall risk of reoffending — as well as goals for your successful reentry; “triggers” that may lead to negative behavior; strategies for avoiding “triggers”; special parole conditions; and your supervision category.[448] Your supervision category is based on DAPO’s initial evaluation of your risk of reoffending, as well as your progress while on parole.[449]

You should receive a copy of your parole plan before you are released. While on parole, you should be meeting regularly with your parole agent to review your parole plan, progress with specific goals and strategies, and other issues. Your parole agent will adjust your parole plan based on your progress and other changes in your situation.[450] S/he should also review your supervision category periodically to see if ti should be changed.[451]

IMPORTANT: Victims and witnesses of your crime can ask for special parole conditions to be added to your parole, including no-contact provisions and/or requirements that you are not paroled to the county where they live (learn more on PG. 185).[452] BPH and CDCR also commonly impose special no-contact provisions for crime partners, which would prevent you from contacting/seeing anyone who was your co-defendant in your criminal case. Lastly, state law requires special conditions for certain categories of people — these are called mandatory special conditions.[453] Specifically, there are mandatory special conditions for “sex offenders” (see PG. 163) and for “mentally disordered offenders” (see PG. 176).


  1. 448

    The Parole Reform Task Force, CDCR, Parole Reform in California: An Evidence-Based & Best Practices Approach (California Parole Reintegration Supervision Model Manual), 17, 20, 54, Jan. 15, 2010, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Road_Map/docs/CA_Parole_Reintegration_Supervision_Model_Manual.pdf

  2. 449

    The various supervision categories are:Transition Phase: All individual immediately after release onto parole; Category A: Reserved primarily for individuals evaluated as High Drug, High Property and High Violence risk levels (California Static Risk Assessment values of 3, 4 and 5); Category B: Reserved primarily for individuals evaluated as Moderate Risk (CSRA values of 2); Category C: Reserved primarily for individuals evaluated as Low Risk (CSRA values of 1); Category D: Reserved primarily for individuals on parole who are in custody, in jail-based Custody Drug Treatment Program (ICDTP), Civil Addicts pending court discharge, gravely ill, or other situations.

    The Parole Reform Task Force, CDCR, Parole Reform in California: An Evidence-Based & Best Practices Approach (California Parole Reintegration Supervision Model Manual), 26-30, 32, 46, Jan. 15, 2010, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Road_Map/docs/CA_Parole_Reintegration_Supervision_Model_Manual.pdf.

  3. 450

    The Parole Reform Task Force, CDCR, Parole Reform in California: An Evidence-Based & Best Practices Approach (California Parole Reintegration Supervision Model Manual), 16, 18, 20, Jan. 15, 2010, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Road_Map/docs/CA_Parole_Reintegration_Supervision_Model_Manual.pdf.

  4. 451

    15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3504. 29-30, 49

  5. 452

    Cal. Penal Code § 3053 et seq.

  6. 453

    See Cal. Penal Code § 3053 et seq. For example, any parolee convicted of a sex offense while intoxicated or addicted to alcohol is barred from using alcohol. Cal. Penal Code § 3053.5. A parolee convicted of domestic violence must participate in counseling. Cal. Penal Code § 3053.2(e)-(i).

What are common examples of special parole conditions?

The most common special conditions for a person on state parole are:

    You cannot drink alcohol;
    You must submit to drug testing;
    You must participate in mental health treatment.[454]
    You must wear a GPS deviIceNote that some people on parole will be required to wear GPS tracking devices (usually ankle monitors). It is the CDCR’s policy to require GPS monitoring for:
    Any parolee validated as a member or associate of a prison gang, street gang, or “disruptive group”;
    Any parolee placed on “high control” supervision;
    Any parolee with a history of being unavailable for supervision, absconding (going missing), escalating parole violations, or other such factors indicating the parolee is likely to commit another crime; and
    Any parolee required by the BPH to have a GPS monitoring condition.[455] Failure to wear the GPS device or to keep it charged is a violation of parole.[456] Parolees can be required to pay for the cost of the GPS if they are able to do so.[457]
  1. 454

    See 15 Cal. Code Regs. § 2513.

  2. 455

    Cal. Penal Code §§ 3004(a), 3010-3010.7; 15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3561.

  3. 456

    15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3562.

  4. 457

    Cal. Penal Code §§ 3004(c); 3000.07; 3010.8; 15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3563.

When will I find out the conditions of my parole, including any special conditions that apply to me?


Your correctional counselor should inform you of your parole conditions at least 45 days before your release, using a CDCR Form 1515: “Notice and Conditions of Parole.”[458] You will be asked to sign the Form 1515.[459] You will also be given a copy of the Form 1515 for you to keep upon your release. Even if you disagree with a special condition listed in the Form 1515, it is usually best to sign the Form 1515 and comply with the conditions while at the same time taking steps to challenge any disputed condition through the appeals process (see PG. 178). If you don't sign the form, you might not get out of prison until the matter is resolved.[460]


When you are out and you first meet with your parole agent, he or she should give you a copy of your Form 1515 to keep, and he or she should explain ALL the general and special conditions of your parole.[461] It is important that you fully understand your parole conditions. If you do not understand some or all of them, ask your parole agent to clear up your questions or concerns.

If your parole agent doesn’t present you with the Form 1515 in your first meeting, you should ask him or her to do so. Again, it is very important that your parole agent explains to you all your conditions of parole — and if he or she does not do so, you should ask.

  1. 458

    15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3075.2(b)(2)(A).

  2. 459

    15 Cal. Code Regs. §§ 3075.2, 3502. CDCR Form 611 is used for the Release Program Study and CDCR Form 1515 is used to notify parolees of their conditions of parole.

  3. 460

    Prison Law Office, The Parolee Rights Manual at 17, http://www.prisonlaw.com/pdfs/ParoleeManual,Aug2013.pdf.

    15 Cal. Code Regs. 3075.2(b)(3)(B) (“A unit supervisor or higher level staff may place an inmate or parolee refusing to sign the CDC Form 1515 into custody pending a revocation hearing.”). Although the BPH regulations still contain a rule that parolees must sign their conditions of parole, it is unclear whether this provision is still enforced in cases in which the BPH has parole authority.

  4. 461

    DOM § 81010.16; 15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3075.2(b)(3)(A).

What makes a special condition of parole unlawful or invalid?

Yes. A parole condition is invalid if it fails any one of the following four legal tests:

TEST 1: A parole condition is invalid if:

    It has no relation to the commitment offense; AND
    It bars conduct that is not in itself criminal; AND
    It requires or forbids conduct that is not reasonably related to future criminal conduct or activities.[462]

For this test, you must show that the condition is invalid based on all three of these factors.

For example: Courts have held that if a parolee has no history of alcohol abuse or committing crimes while intoxicated, alcohol testing cannot be imposed as a condition of parole because using alcohol (1) is unrelated to the parolee’s past criminal conduct, (2) is not illegal in itself, and (3) is not reasonably related to the parolee’s risk of future criminality.[463]

TEST 2: A parole condition is invalid if:

    It infringes on (violates) a constitutional right, AND
    It is broader than necessary to promote public safety or rehabilitation.[464]

TEST 3: A parole condition may be invalid if it is excessively broad or so vague that you cannot understand or follow it.[465]

For example: If a parole condition prohibits you from associating with members of a certain group, then to be valid, it must include a requirement that you actually know (or should know) whether the people you’re associating with are members of the prohibited group.[466]

TEST 4: A parole condition is invalid if it limits the type of employment you can have, and this limitation does not directly relate to your crime.[467]

For example: If you were previously convicted for bouncing a check, a parole condition that forbids you from becoming a salesperson would be invalid.[468]

  1. 462

    People v. Lent, 15 Cal. 3d 481, 486 (1975); People v. Dominguez, 256 Cal. App. 2d 623, 627 (1967). Many of the relevant cases deal with probation conditions, to which courts usually apply the same analysis as to parole conditions. See also People v. Petty, 213 Cal. App. 4th 154 (2013) (condition requiring parolee to take psychiatric drugs invalid where no connection between mental health condition and criminality); People v. Brandao, 210 Cal. App. 4th 568 (2012) (prohibition on associating with gang members must have connection to parolee’s criminality); People v. Olguin, 45 Cal. 4th 375 (2008) (condition requiring notification of all pets in home valid to protect supervising officer’s safety during home visits).

  2. 463

    People v. Kidoo, 225 Cal. App. 3d 922 (1990), overruled on other grounds in People v. Welch, 5 Cal. 4th 228 (1993).

  3. 464

    People v. Smith, 152 Cal. App. 4th 1245, 1250 (2007).

  4. 465

    People v. Fritchey, 2 Cal. App. 4th 829, 838 (1992); U.S. v. Bonanno, 452 F. Supp. 743, 752 (N.D. Cal. 1978). See also People v. Bauer, 211 Cal. App. 3d 937 (1989) (condition not to become pregnant); People v. Pointer, 151 Cal. App. 3d 1128, 1139 (1984) (forbidding living with parents); People v. Beach, 147 Cal. App. 3d 612, 622-623 (1983) (banishing from home); In re Sheena K., 116 Cal. App. 4th 436 (2004) (not associating with anyone disapproved by officer); People v. O’Neil, 165 Cal. App. 4th 1351 (2008) (same); Hyland v. Procunier, 311 F. Supp. 749 (N.D. Cal. 1970) (condition to get permission before making speech); Arciniega v. Freeman, 404 U.S. 4, 92 S. Ct. 22 (1971) (not associating with ex-convicts at work); People v. Garcia, 19 Cal. App. 4th 97, 101-102 (1993) (not associating knowingly or unknowingly with ex-felons or drug users); In re Justin S., 93 Cal. App. 4th 811 (2001) (not associating with “any gang members”); In re Stevens, 119 Cal. App. 4th 1228 (2004) (prohibiting use of computers or Internet when neither used in committing crime); U.S. v. Williams, 356 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir. 2004) (requiring release to take medications); In re H.C., 175 Cal. App. 4th 1067 (2009) (not frequenting areas of gang activity); U.S. v. Soltero, 510 F.3d 858, 867 (9th Cir. 2007) (not associating with members of “disruptive groups”); U.S. v. Wolf Chold, 699 F.3d 1082 (9th Cir 2012) (condition not to live with or be in company of minor under 18 or socialize with minor children).

  5. 466

    People v. Turner, 155 Cal. App. 4th 1432 (2007).

  6. 467

    See People v. Burden, 205 Cal. App. 3d 1277 (1988); People v. Lewis., 77 Cal. App. 3d 455 (1978); People v. Keefer, 35 Cal. App. 156 (1972).

  7. 468

    See People v. Burden, 205 Cal. App. 3d 1277 (1988).