Opinion of the Court
The record before the Court of Appeals contained little information bearing on the level of risk created by the change in law. Without knowledge of whether retroactive application of the amendment to Rule 475-3-.05(2) increases, to a significant degree, the likelihood or probability of prolonging respondent's incarceration, his claim rests upon speculation.
On the record in this case, we cannot conclude the change in Georgia law lengthened respondent's time of actual imprisonment. Georgia law vests broad discretion with the Board, and our analysis rests upon the premise that the Board exercises its discretion in accordance with its assessment of each inmate's likelihood of release between reconsideration dates. If the assessment later turns out not to hold true for particular inmates, they may invoke the policy the Parole Board has adopted to permit expedited consideration in the event of a change in circumstances. App. 56.
The Court of Appeals erred in not considering the Board's internal policy statement. At a minimum, policy statements, along with the Board's actual practices, provide important instruction as to how the Board interprets its enabling statute and regulations, and therefore whether, as a matter of fact, the amendment to Rule 475-3-.05(2) created a significant risk of increased punishment. It is often the case that an agency's policies and practices will indicate the manner in which it is exercising its discretion. Cf. INS v. Yueh-Shaio Yang, 519 U. S. 26, 32 (1996) (observing that the reasonableness of discretionary agency action can be gauged by reference to the agency's policies and practices). The Court of Appeals was incorrect to say the Board's policies were of no relevance in this case. Absent a demonstration to the contrary, we presume the Board follows its statutory commands and internal policies in fulfilling its obligations. Cf. United States ex rel. Accardi v. Shaugnessy, 347 U. S. 260, 266-268 (1954). In Morales, we relied upon the State's representation that its parole board had a practice of grant-Page: Index Previous 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007