By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday placed a 75-day moratorium on early paroles, and replaced the parole board chairman.
The governor’s moves follow concerns that the state parole board had freed violent offenders.
Ivey announced the action in a news conference with Attorney General Steve Marshall after the two had met with parole board members.
The order signed by Ivey directs the board to stop considering inmates for parole before they complete a designated amount of their sentence. She also asked the board to develop a corrective action plan.
The governor also shuffled which board member will serve as chairman. Lyn Head will serve as chair, replacing Cliff Walker.
“There will be no more early parole during this period,” Ivey said. “It’s obvious we need a new approach so we can strengthen management and operations of that agency to better protect the people and public safety.”
A spokesman for the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles said there was no immediate response to the criticisms from the two statewide office holders.
The two actions come after prosecutors and victim advocates expressed alarm over who was being released from prison and the adequacy of parole supervision once an inmate is released. A man charged in the July murders of a 7-year-old boy, his great grandmother and another woman in Guntersville had been released from prison in January after being granted parole.
“When I talk to prosecutors what they are saying is they are seeing more of those violent offenders showing up,” Marshall said.
WSFA had reported about concerns about the number of inmates being considered for early parole.
Parole board rules said inmates convicted of serious crimes such as rape will get initial consideration for parole after they serve 85 percent of their sentence or at least 15 years, whichever is less. However, board members can also take into account mitigating circumstances and also expedite consideration to respond to a crisis.
The parole board issued a statement to WSFA earlier this month disputing an increase in early paroles or any change in procedure.
“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,” the agency statement read.
Sen. Cam Ward, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers might consider trying to take away some of board members’ discretion in deciding who gets released.
“There’s no question there is a problem,” Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, said. “I think there are violent offenders who are being considered for parole way too early.”