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WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Alabama parole board leaders remain on paid leave despite law change

Lyn Head's term expired July 1, 2019.

Posted: Sep 16, 2019 4:24 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2019 7:24 PM

The WAAY 31 I-TEAM is pushing Governor Kay Ivey for answers about how she's fixing Alabama's broken parole system.

Ivey has already made changes by appointing Charles Graddick as the new director over the parole board, but the I-TEAM wanted to know why three employees are basically sitting at home and collecting a paycheck on the taxpayers' dime.

Ivey told WAAY 31 that Judge Charles Graddick, whom she appointed to lead the parole board, is making a lot of changes. He's postponed more than 600 parole hearings because board leaders did nothing to get in compliance with a new law, mandating victims' families be notified, despite having four months to do so.

It's now been two weeks since Graddick put the board's former executive director, Eddie Cook, assistant executive director, Chris Norman, and personnel director, Belinda Johnson, on paid leave pending disciplinary proceedings.

We asked Ivey why taxpayers are still paying the salaries of three people who did nothing to get in compliance with the Parole Act.

"Mr. Graddick is going to address that," said Ivey.

For the last year, the WAAY 31 I-TEAM did extensive investigations on the parole board's failures of not following its own policies, like not notifying victims, having early parole hearings and even letting out violent inmates.

Lyn Head, the current parole board chairperson, even spoke against the Parole Act that holds them accountable by law. Head's term expired in July, so we asked Ivey why Head is still in power.

"Well, her term expires or will soon expire and we will address that at that point in time, but we have appointed a new executive director at the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Charles Graddick, and he's making a major effort to straighten a lot of stuff out over there," said Ivey.

However, Head's term expired July 1st, 2019. We've been asking Ivey's office since then why Head is still in place or if they even plan on making a new appointment. It's unclear if Ivey just forgot Head's term expired more than two months ago.

Graddick's team said they have a ton of issues to fix at the parole board. They are starting with properly notifying victims 30 days in advance of parole hearings. We did ask them if they have found any other flaws in the system or what will happen to the three employees on paid leave. They said they're still collecting information and will keep us updated on their progress.

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