Parole Board Responds to Introduction of Substitute to SB 42 in Committee April 10, 2019

April 12, 2019

Parole Board Responds to Introduction of Substitute to SB 42 in Committee
April 10, 2019

Montgomery, AL- In response to the introduction of a substitute to SB 42
sponsored by Senator Cam Ward, the Board of Pardons and Paroles releases the
following statement:

In August 2018, Executive Director Eddie Cook requested the Parole Board order a
three-year limit to the amount of time which an inmate could be scheduled for
early parole consideration. This requested policy change limited the amount of
time allowed for early consideration to a maximum of three years. Prior to Mr.
Cook’s appointment to Executive Director, an inmate or his or her representative
could request a parole consideration hearing that could be early by any amount of
time, if a Review Committee voted to docket the case. Mr. Cook’s
recommendation to the Board was implemented, based upon his concerns to the
Board that inconsistencies among these early considerations were unfair to victims
and law enforcement involved in their cases.

In September 2018, the Board and docket unit discovered two cases were set early
accidentally, as the result of a human error in the hand-calculation of the guideline
set dates. As a result, our docket unit Division Director began verifying
calculations in every case prior to their hearing. In fact, several cases where
notices had already been sent were cancelled due to erroneous calculations, with
notice sent to the Attorney General, victims, law enforcement, and inmates. A
representative of the Attorney General called our office to inquire as to the reason
for the cancellations. It was explained to the AG representative the cases were set
in error.

On October 15, 2018, a meeting was held with Governor Ivey and the Attorney
General. Board members again acknowledged previous errors in calculations of
parole guideline set dates, and advised each case was being scrutinized to prevent
this from re-occurring. This has been recognized repeatedly from that point, in the
Corrective Action Plan, and subsequent correspondence with the Governor and the
Attorney General. These human errors hardly warrant the statement that “the
parole board is not following its own rules and the system is broken.”

The thorough responses to every inquiry, instruction, and request by Governor Ivey
and the Attorney General clearly demonstrate the Board is accountable to the
concerns of the public which have led to the Governor’s concerns. Each Board
member is currently nominated through a committee comprised of the Lt.
Governor, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, the presiding Criminal Appeals Judge,
the Senate President pro tem, and the Speaker of the House, is appointed by the
Governor, confirmed by the Senate, and subject to impeachment. The bill
proposed by the Attorney General seeks to eliminate the nominating committee
from this process. Further, the legislation only seeks to remove five government
leaders from the nominating process, but does not seek to change this appointment,
confirmation, or impeachment provision for Parole Board members. It seeks to
remove authority for appointment of the agency’s Executive Director from the
Board, which has historically appointed the Executive Director. Candidates for the
position have been sworn officers, who are qualified candidates and have
demonstrated their leadership abilities and competency to the Board regarding the
work of the agency. The Board works closely with these officers on a full-time
basis during their term.