Two district attorneys work together to ensure that prosecutors of Savannah, GA, are given all the information necessary before making parole decisions on prison inmates.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg McConnell is no stranger to the prisoner-release process. Over the years he has encountered numerous cases involving dangerous criminals set to be released from prison, due to the prosecutor’s ignorance of decision-altering information.
In one case, McConnell prevented a convicted killer who had a disciplinary record running 663 pages from being released. Apparently, the prosecutors were unaware of the man’s history, having never seen the records prior to McConnell’s mention. In another case McConnell found that a man scheduled to be released had attacked a female correctional officer with the intention of killing her only a few years earlier.
Prosecutors choosing to grant dangerous inmates parole is not a rarity. It is only mandatory for prison boards to provide prosecutors with brief summaries of inmate’s time in prison. The summaries don’t have to go back any farther that 2009. Without a definite reason to keep prisoners behind bars prosecutors feel comfortable granting them release. Perhaps, McConnell argues, prosecutors would be more unnerved if they had more information.
After witnessing this hazardous oversight firsthand, on multiple occasions McConnell reached out to his boss, District Attorney Meg Heap, for help spreading the word and correcting future mistakes from happening. The two share a goal: to create greater transparency in parole decisions.
McConnell and Heap see a problem with prosecutor’s ability to grant parole to inmates despite being denied accurate and detailed reports of the prisoner’s behavior while behind bars. That is not to say that they have an issue with inmates being released, in general. Rather, they want there to be some type of standard in place for prosecutors to follow prior to making their decision: “A model prisoner? Fine. No objection. A man who’s spent his whole life hurting others? Different matter” (2017).
McConnell and Heap have discovered more issues with the release of prison inmates than just their records missing information. Up until recently, it was not mandatory to tell prosecutors and crime victims that an inmate was under consideration for parole. Recently, a new state law requires that the district attorney’s office be notified 90 days before making the decision to release an inmate. When “serious, violent, felonies” (2017) have been committed, the board is required to gather, and be willing to hand over all of the inmate’s disciplinary records to the DA’s office.
Improvements are being made to insure that prosecutors have been given all the information necessary to make informed decisions on whether or not to release prison inmates. Are these precautions enough? To answer that question and to learn more about this topic please read “Editorial: New law opens up the parole system, but not enough.”
Editorial: New law opens up the parole system, but not enough. (2017, April 30). Retrieved May 02, 2017, from http://savannahnow.com/opinion/editorial/2017-04-29/editorial-new-law-opens-parole-system-not-enough