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The state parole board now has less than 24 hours to submit a new plan to the governor, after the WAAY 31 I-Team uncovered a series of flaws in the system.
Our investigation centered around Jimmy Spencer, a violent parolee who's now charged with three murders in Guntersville. In October, Governor Kay Ivey issued an executive order, which demanded the parole board stop all hearings for early release. She also gave the board 30 days to come up with a plan for change. That deadline is tomorrow.
On Tuesday, while WAAY 31 was in Montgomery for parole hearings, victims' advocates said some families were not notified by the board about upcoming parole hearings, which shows there's still work to be done.
"Half of the people that were there today, the victims, had not been properly notified," said Janette Grantham, the statewide director of "Victims of crime and leniency," or "Vocal".
Vocal is a non-profit advocacy group for victims. Grantham said at least four separate families at parole hearings on Tuesday were not properly notified, and said they found out about the hearings from various district attorneys or word of mouth.
"This is another issue on top of all the other things, and it just seems to never end," said Grantham.
Grantham attends every parole hearing and says since the governor's executive order, she's seen a change in how the board handles things.
"They are treating the victims with much more respect, and it's just been a much more pleasant environment," said Grantham.
The governor gave the board 30 days to present her office and the Attorney General's office with a plan. She wants the board to have stronger leadership, show more respect to victims, be able to get the right information about inmates and supervise parolees. Grantham says she's cautiously optimistic.
"I do believe they are making the best effort right now," said Grantham.
The parole board said it will submit its corrective action plan on Wednesday. Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly, who was at parole hearings on Tuesday, says he's seen a difference in the board as well.
"The tone in there is a lot better I think. What we've asked them to do is what everyone should expect them to do, is follow their own rules," said Connolly.
The pardon and parole board said once its plan is submitted to the Governor and Attorney General, it will notify the media. It's unclear what action state officials could take if they are not satisfied with the plan.
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- I-Team: Gov. Ivey, attorney general respond to parole board action plan
- I-Team: Parole board releases changes to their action plan
- I-Team: Victims' families react to the parole board's second corrective action plan
- I-Team: Governor Ivey tasks former parole board member with observation of current parole board
- I-Team: Governor Ivey temporarily halts early paroles, changes Parole Board leadership