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State Bureau of Pardons and Paroles: Could take “weeks” to resume hearings

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama’s Bureau of Pardons and Paroles announced Monday that it could take weeks until parole hearings resume, meaning many hundreds will be impacted by the interruption of those hearings. 

Skip Tucker, news director at the bureau, told APR on Monday that it’s not clear when those parole hearings would resume. A press release from the bureau on Monday states it will take “weeks” for them to resume. 

“It’s all at a standstill until the requirements under the new law have been met,” Tucker said. “They’re procedural issues.” 

Asked if anyone has an estimate on how long it will take for the hearings to resume Tucker said no. 

“But everybody’s working very hard to come into compliance as soon as possible,” Tucker said. 

The bureau’s director, Charlie Graddick, said in the release that the Board of Operations division isn’t able to assure him that the docket complies with the law. 

“Last week we had to postpone 113 hearings. We’ll resume parole hearings as soon as we’re sure legal requirements have been met,” Graddick said. “We’re working hard to learn if the dockets pass muster legally. It could mean notifying up to 700 people. Addresses must be verified. It’s going to take weeks.” 

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Graddick,  a former judge who also served two terms as the state’s attorney general, began his director position on Sept. 1 and five days later placed three agency officials, including his predecessor, on mandatory leave pending an investigation into “allegations of malfeasance.” 

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Tucker said the notification portion of the new law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey in May, is the “sticking point” in this matter but that there are other aspects of the law that weren’t being met. 

Asked to name a few of the other aspects of the law that weren’t being met, Tucker said there are “all kinds of procedural issues” but wasn’t able to identify others. 

“Off the top of my head the only one I would point to right now is the notification, because victims have to have a 30-day notice,” Tucker said. 

The new law signed by Ivey in May also gave her the ability to appoint the bureau’s director. Previously, the three-member board named the director. 

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles has been under fire after the parole of inmate Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, who was serving a life sentence for mostly non-violent crimes. Spencer is charged with capital murder in the deaths of three people in Guntersville, which took place after his release.

 

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