What is a Merit Board?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 March 2020
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A merit board is the term used to describe a special committee that exists solely for the purpose of reviewing an individual’s actions to determine whether or not disciplinary action should be taken against that individual or what type of penalty should be applied. A merit board is commonly used to determine whether a correctional facility inmate receives parole or probation. These specialized review boards are a component of most prison systems, but are also used in employment settings, as well as other public safety capacities.

When used within a prison setting, inmates may be released from custody based in part on the decision of a merit board. For instance, at a special rescission hearing, it may be determined that an inmate’s parole date should be postponed or permanently canceled. Information offered to the courts by a merit review committee is useful in making such a determination.


In addition to boards that exist as part of a prison system, a merit board may also be used to assess the actions of individuals working within a private company or as a government employee. While most employees do not require a review performed by a merit board, those who are accused of operating outside of the usual ethics ascribed to that industry may be required to submit to a review process to determine whether or not rules have been violated and, if so, to determine an appropriate penalty. After a thorough review, a committee will decide on a suitable action.

Within the insurance industry, a different type of merit board may exist. Usually referred to as a merit rating board, such a body is used to keep accurate records of each individual insured driver’s traffic violations and insurance claims. Driving records that were created in other jurisdictions may also be monitored by a merit review board. This information is shared with insurance companies as well as government agencies in order to notify each one of a person’s individual driving record.

Variations of a merit board exist in other industries, as well. Essentially, these boards exist to evaluate an individual’s performance and, more specifically, to determine whether the rules of an association or society have been violated. When and if a violation does occur, a merit board helps in determining whether or not a penalty is suitable and what type of penalty should apply.


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