Monday, March 30, 2015

Georgia: The Stealth Board

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the State's 5-member Board of Pardons and Paroles operates " with near-absolute autonomy" because:
They do not answer to legislators, judges, or even the governor who appointed them to their jobs, which carry a base salary of $135,000 a year. The board does not meet in public to consider cases. It announces no justification for its decisions. In weighing the pleas of death row inmates to have their sentences commuted to life in prison, board members essentially are free to base their votes on any grounds they choose. 
One wonder how such an institution exists, today, and what sort of quality control mechanisms are in in place to review its work. It is also noted that "almost all" of the board’s files are classified as “confidential state secrets.” State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, has introduced a bill in the current legislative session "that would require the board to follow strict standards in weighing clemency and to explain the basis for each decision afterward." It is reported that the measure "passed the House but is still awaiting Senate action with the end of the session just days away." See story here.

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