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Alabamians for Fair Justice: Change in Alabama’s Parole Board Leadership Presents Opportunity for Increased Fairness, Justice, and Public Safety

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - According to news reports,  Charles Graddick will no longer serve as the director for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Parole. The following statement is from Alabamians for Fair Justice:

 

“Since Mr. Graddick took over as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in September 2019, 618 of 3,123, or 20 percent, of parole hearings granted a release. This is in sharp contrast to the 3,732 people granted parole and 54% grant rate in fiscal year 2018 - the year immediately preceding Mr. Graddick’s appointment as director. Under Mr. Graddick’s leadership, Alabama’s parole system has essentially groundto a halt, leaving many people languishing in the state’s overcrowded, understaffed and dangerous prisons in direct opposition to the recommendations cited in the U.S. Department of Justice investigative report. 

 

“Despite a deadly pandemic spreading through the Alabama Department of Corrections and calls for action by community advocates, the BPP failed to uphold its mission to ‘promote and enhance public safety.’ Instead of granting parole to eligible people who would be able to better protect and care for themselves at home, the BPP has held fewer hearings, granted parole to fewer people and disproportionately denied parole to Black people in the months since COVID-19 was first reported in Alabama. Many people eligible for parole - including nearly 200 who are older than 65 and more susceptible to COVID-19 - haven’t even had a parole hearing scheduled. They continue to be housed in prisons with constitutionally inadequate healthcare and poor conditions, where the ability to social distance and access to personal protective equipment are virtually nonexistent.

 

Additionally, the drop in paroles granted has meant that, instead of receiving parole supervision and re-entry services, more people serve their entire sentence then leave Alabama’s violent and chaotic prisons without re-entry services. Such shortsighted policies and practices increase recidivism and do not make Alabamians safer.  

 

“With this imminent change in leadership at the Alabama parole board comes the opportunity to ensure this body is transparent and accountable in its duties to protect public safety and promote rehabilitation. We urge future leaders to recognize the importance of hearing from all individuals eligible for parole, granting parole to everyone who meets criteria and eliminating racial disparities among those who receive hearings and are granted release. While increasing the use of parole alone will not solve all of the problems plaguing Alabama’s prison system, it would help alleviate them while also providing hope and redemption to those incarcerated in Alabama’s prisons.”