Alabama Parole Board resumes hearings after 2-month pause

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Steve Marshall_Parole Board
AG Steve Marshall talks to the Alabama Pardon and Parole Board [Photo Credit: @DeerStandHill via Twitter]

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied release to 90% of the inmates up for consideration during its first hearing following a monthslong suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The board voted to deny parole to 20 out of 22 inmates it reviewed on Tuesday, according to a statement from the agency.

The two inmates granted parole were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, while 13 of the inmates denied parole were convicted of violent crimes, the statement said.

The board announced on May 8 that it planned to hold 161 parole hearings this month, though they would be closed to the public. It initially suspended hearings at its offices in Montgomery in March, and some had complained that the moratorium could lead to an increase in the state’s already overcrowded prison system, where inmates could also be at risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama cited the virus’ spread in a news release Tuesday, calling the number of denials “grossly irresponsible.”

The ACLU has raised concerns about a decline in the number of paroles granted as the number of inmates eligible for parole increases along with the state’s prison population.

Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Charlie Graddick told legislators in January that prison overcrowding should not be a factor in parole decisions, Al.com reported.