Criticized for secrecy, parole board to give crime victims a say

By Alan Judd

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published Dec. 3, 2014

Georgia’s parole board, criticized for secretly pardoning violent criminals and sex offenders, adopted major policy changes Tuesday, inviting unprecedented scrutiny of at least some of its operations.

Beginning next month, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles will notify crime victims and prosecutors when a sex offender or other violent felon applies for a pardon, including those restoring the right to possess firearms. For decades, the agency has kept the existence of such applications confidential, and prosecutors and victims could not learn about pardons until after the fact. From now on, they’ll be offered a chance to weigh in before the board acts.

The parole board also decided Tuesday to impose new restrictions on pardon applications from registered sex offenders. The board historically has considered pardon requests only if sex offenders have been out of prison or off probation for at least five years. Tuesday’s vote extended the waiting period to 10 years.

These changes take effect in 30 days, barring a legal challenge. The General Assembly is likely to consider more changes when it convenes next month.

The board acted after months of critical examinations, including a series of investigative articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Story continues here.

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