In the wake of a parolee who is charged with triple homicide, Governor Kay Ivey has temporarily suspended early paroles for violent offenders.
Ivey and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall held a closed-door meeting with the three members of the Alabama Board of Paroles and Pardons and their staff to discuss concerns that arose from both the Jimmy Spencer case, as well other concerns regarding the parole system.
Ivey said she was “disappointed with the answers” from board members. She said there was a “lack of detail,” which was frustrating.
As part of Executive Order 716 that was issued Monday morning, Ivey shuffled the power structure of the parole board, which she said was her prerogative as governor.
The order also establishes a moratorium on early parole consideration for violent offenders. It states that “Effective immediately, the Board shall not consider any inmate for parole before the inmate’s ‘initial parole consideration date’ as determined under the Board operating procedures.”
Ivey also created a 30-day “implementation period” to come up with a way to improve four areas overseen by the parole board:
- Ensuring excellence in executive leadership
- Cultivating a culture of respect towards victims and law enforcement
- Ensuring adequate preparation for parole hearings
- Maintaining supervision of parolees
The executive order dictates that the board should put the plan into motion starting either 15 days following the submission of the plan to the Governor and Attorney General or the date on which the Governor approves the plan.
"The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles’ decisions are crucial to the safety of our state, and the issues here are not to be taken lightly," Ivey said.
The attorney representing the families of Jimmy Spencer's victims, Tommy James, said in a statement following Ivey's press conference that inmates are not being properly evaluated prior to parole.
“The Governor said that inmates ‘work their way up the chain’ through ‘lots of committees’ prior to them being paroled. This confirms that there were lapses at many levels that led to Jimmy Spencer’s release," James said. "The state needs to take responsibility and be held accountable for the loss of these victims’ lives.”
Governor Ivey said Spencer fell through the cracks. The cracks include getting into a series of fights in prison that should've stopped him from getting paroled.
"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 and restore confidence in pardon and paroles," said Ivey.