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I-Team: Victims families want to see parole board members removed, which could be difficult

If the governor believes a board member is incapable of doing their job, she can request the attorney general to move forward with an inquisition.

Posted: Dec. 20, 2018 4:04 PM
Updated: Dec. 20, 2018 6:37 PM

There are just nine days left for the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to meet Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall’s demands for a complete overhaul to the system.

Marshall said that if the board doesn’t have a sufficient plan, he and the governor will take whatever action they see necessary. Families say the time is here for that.

"I expect to fight, because I expect them to mess up again. It's their pattern," said Tonia Bass, whose brother, Bryan Hutto, was murdered in 2010.

In order to have parole board members removed, it would take impeachment processes or a court order. 

"Absent the grounds for impeachment, parole board members can't be removed, and I think that limits the authority of the governor and the legislator to have oversight over that particular agency," Marshall said.

Alabama law also provides a second option. If the governor believes a board member is incapable of doing their job, she can request the attorney general to move forward with an inquisition. A circuit court judge in Montgomery could then rule a board member physically or mentally incompetent and deem the member's position vacant.

The WAAY 31 I-Team began investigating the board after it paroled a career criminal, Jimmy Spencer. He was serving a life sentence and was disciplined dozens of times while in prison. He’s now charged with killing three people after breaking terms of his parole several times between January and July.

"I think the Spencer case highlights everything that is currently wrong with the current set up," Marshall said. "When we see that he [Spencer] is sent to a different place than the parole board initially intended. When we find out that he leaves that facility, but yet no notification, or at least action is taken on behalf of the individual responsible for supervision. Then we see law enforcement contact, in which under the current system criminal history information would be sent directly to the person supervising to know whether or not to be able to revoke that persons opportunity to be out on the streets. Nothing took place to stop what was an extremely tragic act for three innocent victims who have now lost their lives."

A former parole board member, Bobby Longshore said he doesn't believe board members have done anything to warrant removal but said there is a third option if the attorney general and governor want to remove parole board members.

"The governor, as the appointing authority, could ask for their resignation," he said.

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