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Assistant Attorney General appointed new Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles chairperson

Leigh Gwathney has been appointed to serve as chair of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Posted: Sep 23, 2019 4:40 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2019 7:23 PM

Assistant Attorney General Leigh Gwathney has been appointed to serve as chair of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

"She’s a proven prosecutor with an expertise and passion for the justice system, & I’m proud to call on her to serve in this capacity," Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted on Monday. Read a statement from her office here.

Attorney General Steve Marshall and Assistant Attorney General Leigh Gwathney; Courtesy of the office Steve Marshall

Lyn Head announced this month that she is resigning as the parole board chairperson, effective Oct. 1st. Read more on that here.

Victims' families that WAAY 31 spoke with said they are excited to see more change coming to the parole board. They said since Gwathney is coming from the Attorney General's office, she knows of the flaws in the system and they believe she will do a great job.

Attorney General Steve Marshall's office released this statement on Monday: 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall applauded the appointment of Assistant Attorney General Leigh Gwathney to serve as chair of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles effective October 16. Governor Kay Ivey announced the appointment of Gwathney Monday to replace Board chair Lyn Head who submitted her resignation on September 17.

“I applaud Governor Ivey’s selection of Leigh Gwathney to lead the Board of Pardons and Paroles,” said Attorney General Marshall. “I am confident that Ms. Gwathney will restore integrity and diligence to the Board as it returns to its core mission of thoroughly vetting Alabama prison inmates’ petitions for parole.

“I have worked with Leigh since becoming Attorney General two and a half years ago and I have been impressed with her knowledge of the law and her zeal for justice. She brings to the Board of Pardons and Paroles the perspective of a tough and experienced career prosecutor with a record of holding violent offenders accountable. She will ensure that the Board’s decisions adhere to the law and are in the best interests of the citizens of this state. I look forward to working with Leigh in the years to come.”

Attorney General Marshall also expressed appreciation to the nominating commission members —Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, Speaker Mac McCutcheon, and Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh —for submitting Ms. Gwathney's name, among four other candidates, to the Governor for her consideration.

“I am greatly honored to be asked by Governor Ivey to serve as chair of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, and I will devote my best efforts to ensuring that Alabama laws are followed and public safety is protected,” said Leigh Gwathney. “I am eager to work with my fellow Board members and Director Graddick in restoring public trust in our state pardons and paroles system.”

Gwathney has been a career prosecutor with the State of Alabama for the past 18 years. She began her career in 2002 as a Deputy District Attorney with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office (Birmingham Division) where she prosecuted violent crimes including capital murders, crimes against children, and sexual assaults. She joined the Attorney General's Office in 2014 where she has served in the Criminal Trials Division traveling throughout the state prosecuting crimes against persons.

A native of Birmingham, Ms. Gwathney is graduate of Auburn University and the University of Alabama School of Law. She is active in her community and Vestavia Hills Baptist Church.

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