Ala. DA: Parole board releasing violent offenders at 'alarming rate'
"The current Board has repeatedly and consistently released violent offenders after they have served only a minute portion of lengthy sentences," the DA wrote
By Mike Cason
Alabama Media Group
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey has asked Gov. Kay Ivey to investigate recent actions of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, which Bailey said is granting parole to violent offenders at an "alarming rate."
Bailey's office released a letter he wrote to Ivey today.
"The current Board has repeatedly and consistently released violent offenders after they have served only a minute portion of lengthy sentences," Bailey wrote.
Later in the letter, Bailey said he believes an investigation would show that "the Board is not following its own policies and procedures in deciding which offenders to consider for parole, and that the Board and the Executive Director should be relieved of their duties."
Efforts to reach the parole board were not immediately successful. Earlier this week, the parole board issued a statement in response to concerns raised by Bailey and the victims' advocacy group VOCAL in a story published by WSFA:
"The Agency's position is we do not have data showing a dramatic increase in violent inmates being considered for parole prior to their original set date. If such data exists from another entity, we would be happy to analyze their numbers. There have been no procedure changes that would generate an increase in cases considered fitting your description."
Ivey spokesman Daniel Sparkman said today did not know if the governor had seen Bailey's letter but said the governor has met with victims' advocates and plans to meet with members of the Parole Board.
"Governor Ivey has some serious concerns about the situation at the Board of Pardons and Paroles," Sparkman said. "She is being briefed on the ongoing situation and what role she can play. She has already met with members of VOCAL to hear their concerns. She will soon be meeting with the members of the Board to discuss her concerns with them. Governor Ivey is devoted to getting to the core of the issue and solving it once and for all."
The governor appoints the members of the three-person parole board subject to confirmation by the Senate. State law says board members can be removed by impeachment.
Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, said victims groups, law enforcement and judges have expressed concern about recent parole decisions. For example, the board has a rule that those convicted of murder and other violent crimes must serve at least 15 years or 85 percent of their sentence before their initial parole consideration date unless there are mitigating circumstances. Matson cited four recent cases in which offenders convicted of murder were scheduled for their first hearing after serving nine years or less.
"I'm not aware of any DA that's not appalled with what we're having to deal with right now," Matson said.
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