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I-Team: Lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would limit the Parole Boards power on early parole hearings

The bill would stop early parole hearings for extremely violent offenses.

Posted: Dec. 15, 2018 3:46 PM
Updated: Dec. 19, 2018 12:42 PM

The WAAY31 I-Team learned an Alabama Senator plans to introduce legislation that would limit the Alabama Parole Boards say in who should be paroled.

Senator Cam Ward from Alabaster pushed through the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2015, which changed parts of how the parole board operated. As a result the board began hearing early parole cases for violent inmates. Ward now wants to introduce a bill that would limit the parole boards power on violent cases.

"If you do the crime you ought to do the time," said Dewayne Roberts, who lives in North Alabama. and that's just the way I feel.

Roberts told WAAY31 people get paroled or let out of prison too early

"They shouldn't do that. Especially these child offenders and stuff they need to be put under the jail instead of in it," said Roberts.

Senator Cam Ward said he wants this new bill to limit the parole boards power. Ward told us the bill would only affect people convicted of class a felonies like murder, rape, and child molestation. Those convicted of these crimes would not be allowed to even come up for parole until 85% of their sentence is served.

"We are not only concerned about what we have seen the last several months with the early parole cuts and the consideration of violent offenders," said Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Marshall and the Governor have already taken action against the parole board. They halted early paroles temporarily and gave the board another 30 days to come up with a new plan to fix their problems, after they rejected the boards first plan. Marshall said when someone comes up for early parole it's like a slap in the face to the justice system.

"After someone has been sentenced for a violent crime and when I see the parole board is doing something very different then what I and other prosecutors across the state promised victims what would happen then it becomes very personal," said Marshall.

Ward did not say if a rough draft on his bill was complete yet. We know he does plan to introduce it in the next legislative session which will happen in 2019.

The WAAY31 I-team began investigating the parole boards policies and procedures after they paroled career criminal, Jimmy Spencer, who was supposed to be serving a life sentence.

Spencer even had run ins with police after he was paroled in January 2018. He was also arrested on drug charges in June 2018, but never sent back to prison. He's now accused of murdering three people in Guntersville.

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