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I-Team: Alabama Parole Board cancels hearings following meeting with Gov. Ivey

The Alabama Parole Board has canceled all parole hearings for the rest of the week because of Governor Ivey's executive order.

Posted: Oct. 16, 2018 9:34 AM
Updated: Oct. 26, 2018 3:43 PM

The Alabama Parole Board canceled all parole hearings on Tuesday for the rest of the week.

According to the board, Governor Ivey's executive order, which she issued Monday after meeting with them is the reason the hearings are cancelled. The board said they need time to go over the docket to make sure that no early parole hearings for violent offenders are on it. 

On Monday, Ivey shuffled the power structure of the parole board by replacing Chairman Clifford Walker with Lyn Head, one of the other two board members.

In a statement to the WAAY 31 I-team, Ivey said, “My order was clear that the board was to implement a moratorium on early parole hearings, not all parole hearings… their reasoning is not sound. There are certainly issues that need to be addressed."

There are now 29 days for the parole board to create a plan to stop letting violent criminals out on parole and for victims to believe their voice is heard. 

"We have work to do to make sure we re-instill the governor and attorney general's confidence in us, and that's what we're going to do with this action plan," said Darrell Morgan, the assistant executive director of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

WAAY 31 asked Morgan why when Jimmy Spencer, who is charged with murdering three people in Guntersville after being released by the parole board, was arrested on June 14 in Sardis, why did his parole officer not take action until July 6?

"I haven't spoke to the parole officer about the reasons for that. I know that was something that was done in the internal file review," Morgan said. "All those aspects in that parole, and what may have gone wrong in that supervision were looked at by the board, and we are addressing any lapses we find that were in that case."

Spencer is now in prison awaiting his trial. Investigators discovered the victims' bodies the same day Spencer was in court over a citation for breaking rules in a state park.

The board did not comment on what policy changes we could see. It said it’s working on the corrective action plan to present to the governor and attorney general. At this time, it's unclear if more parole hearings could be cancelled.

Families drove from hours away for hearings and were given no notice of cancellation until they arrived. Some people said they're already questioning if the board will respect victims in the future.

"I think it was something that was not thought out well. I thought it was very inconsiderate to the people of the state of Alabama," said Kita Moss, who was paroled in May of 2018.

Joyce Adams, whose brother was murdered 20 years ago, said the parole hearing for the woman convicted in his murder was cancelled last minute Tuesday. Adams said she wasn't notified.

"At least a phone call could have notified us. We took off of work. We drove here," Adams said.

Selena Ford said she has waited on her grandmother's parole hearing for nine years and that when she called the parole board Monday afternoon, they said the parole hearing was still a go.

"They locked the doors on us. They stopped us at the door and said there are no hearings today, turn around," Ford said.

Ford said she feels like the parole board ripped the hope of her grandmother being released away from her.

"To get that date two months ago saying she would be having a hearing and praying to God that he would release her on this day, and they have the doors locked," Ford said.

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