Garner v. Jones, 529 U.S. 244, 11 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

Board's consideration of numerous factors specific to an inmate's offense, rehabilitative efforts, and ability to live a responsible, productive life). The essence of respondent's case, as we see it, is not that discretion has been changed in its exercise but that, in the period between parole reviews, it will not be exercised at all. The statutory structure, its implementing regulations, and the Parole Board's unrefuted representations regarding its operations do not lead to this conclusion.

The law changing the frequency of parole reviews is qualified in two important respects. First, the law vests the Parole Board with discretion as to how often to set an inmate's date for reconsideration, with eight years for the maximum. See Ga. Rules & Regs., Rule 475-3-.05(2) (1985) ("Reconsideration . . . shall take place at least every eight years"). Second, the Board's policies permit "expedited parole reviews in the event of a change in their circumstance or where the Board receives new information that would warrant a sooner review." App. 56. These qualifications permit a more careful and accurate exercise of the discretion the Board has had from the outset. Rather than being required to review cases pro forma, the Board may set reconsideration dates according to the likelihood that a review will result in meaningful considerations as to whether an inmate is suitable for release. The Board's stated policy is to provide for reconsideration at 8-year intervals "when, in the Board's determination, it is not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted during the intervening years." Ibid. The policy enables the Board to put its resources to better use, to ensure that those prisoners who should receive parole come to its attention. By concentrating its efforts on those cases identified as having a good possibility of early release, the Board's Rules might result in the release of some prisoners earlier than would have been the case otherwise.

The particular case of respondent well illustrates that the Board's Rule changes are designed for the better exercise of

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