I-Team: Parole board paroles two Florence criminals despite objection from DA

Two men charged with crimes in Florence are set to be let out of prison early.

Posted: Aug. 20, 2018 4:32 PM
Updated: Oct. 15, 2018 2:35 PM

The WAAY 31 I-team is digging into more problems with Alabama’s Parole Board. Monday, we learned the board is letting two inmates out early even though prosecutors fought it from happening.

Two men from Florence, Michael Prater and Darnell Rice, haven't served their full sentences yet but have been granted parole.

Lauderdale County District Attorney, Chris Connolly, said he wanted both men to serve out their sentences for crimes they committed in Florence, he even wrote letters to the parole board asking them to keep both me in prison to serve out their sentences, but that didn't happen.

Prater plead guilty to aggravated stalking and escape. The two sentences were supposed to run consecutively. The sentences would keep him locked up for 15 years, but according to Department of Corrections documents uncovered by the I-team the state granted him parole in April. After only serving about four years of his 15 year sentence.

The parole board granted Darnell Rice an early release 7 years into a 20 year sentence. He’s in prison for shooting a man in Florence.

The I-team started pressing the Department of Corrections and Parole Board more than a month ago. That’s when we were first to report a man named Jimmy Spencer was serving a life sentence. He was then released on parole, walked away from his re-entry program about a month later and was then arrested on drug charges. He was let out and is now charged with killing three people in Guntersville.

The I-team started looking into parole rates after Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning ripped into the system late last week.

"No it don't work. Hadn't worked. It's never been proven to work. The thing is if you're going to do a punishment than do a punishment and let it be done," said Dorning in a press conference.

We uncovered of the 14,000 inmates let out last year more than half were released early.

We have requested information from the parole board on why these two men were let out early. They told us we would have to send money to get the parole action sheet, which would give us answers as to why.

Even though both men were granted parole in April 2018. It's unclear if they have left prison yet or not. If an inmate is granted parole they are then set to have a release date.

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