Friday, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles has cancelled more than 100 hearings set for next week because new Director Charlie Graddick says that the prior administration failed to perform due diligence to meet requirements set forth under a new state law passed in May regarding notifications to victims and witnesses.
Director Charlie Graddick, who took over leadership on September 1, said that neither he, the three-member board nor his legal staff were informed of the failure until noon on Thursday.
“I’m afraid this hot mess is indicative of what the state has suffered for some time,” Director Graddick said. “This is the classic failure to communicate. The previous administration had May, June, July and August to address these new guidelines and did nothing. Yesterday, our legal team received requests for clarification of new notification rules, questions that leave doubts whether proper notifications have been made.”
Graddick’s first action as director was to place three agency officials on mandatory leave pending investigation into allegations of malfeasance.
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has made a number of high profile mistakes, some of which resulted in recent parolees murdering peaceful Alabamians shortly after the board released them from prison. The chaos led to Governor Kay Ivey (R) and Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) suspending parole hearing for a period in 2018 after it was found that the board was not following its own rules in determining who qualified for parole. Murderers and other violent criminals, who had received lengthy sentences, were being considered for parole after very short periods of time. The governor and AG urged the legislature to reform how the board is governed and to set new rules for how the board considers pardons and paroles. That legislation to reform and reorganize the governance of the troubled board passed both houses during the 2019 legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Ivey.
Once Ivey received her new powers over the board she appointed former Mobile County Judge Charlie Graddick (R) as the new director.
Graddick is a longtime judge, a former Alabama Attorney General, and winner of the 1986 Democratic nomination for Governor over then Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley (D). A court later overturned Graddick’s win and installed Baxley as the Democratic nominee. Baxley was defeated in the general election by Cullman County Probate Judge Guy Hunt – the first Republican to win a gubernatorial race in Alabama in over a hundred years. The GOP has lost just one of the thirteen gubernatorial races since. In 2012 Graddick lost the Republican Primary for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to former Chief Justice Roy Moore.
It is anticipated that Graddick will need to make a number of personnel changes to the staff at the Board of Pardons and Paroles to make future decisions more responsive to public safety concerns.