New information about an internal investigation on how a triple murder suspect slipped through the cracks in Alabama's parole system. The WAAY 31 I-team learned the state pardon and parole board finished an internal review of a case involving a triple murder suspect, but won't say what, if any changes are coming.
They send us this statement saying, " The file review has been completed and recommendations regarding this matter are being discussed and implemented. As this process has not been completed, at this time we are unable to release information regarding policy updates, victim notification changes, progressive discipline application or other measures associated with this review. We do not want to release information that may require amendment in the future. Once fully implemented, the Agency will be as transparent as possible for the public interest. We do not have a timeline for completion, but the matter is a top priority for the Board."
Jimmy Spencer started his life of crime in Franklin County and was serving a life sentence when he was let out on parole earlier this year. One Shoals law maker said it's unacceptable that the parole board will not release their findings of the review anytime soon.
"The public has a right to know and they have a right to be concerned," said Shoals Representative, Johnny Mack Morrow. "If you allow government officials bureaucrats to hide information then your inviting corruption and your inviting bureaucrats making decisions that's not in the best interest of the public."
Spencer is a life long criminal who was serving a life sentence but changes in the law and overcrowding led to the parole board releasing him. Bobby Longshore said he saw the system moving in a flawed direction so he left the parole board after serving 11 years.
"The two systems try to accommodate each other but it's not the parole boards job to relieve overcrowding the Alabama Department of Corrections. The input into the system is what's causing the overcrowding. The release strategy is not the answer," said Longshore.
Spencer was let out of prison in January 2018. He then walked away from a residential facility he was supposed to be at for six months in February. He was then written misdemeanor citations in May at Guntersville State Park. In June he had a run in with Guntersville police but fully cooperated so they had to let him go. No warrants popped up in his background.
Later on the same day in June Spencer was arrested for drug charges in Sardis. Again no warrants popped up in his background check so Sardis police had to let him go. In July Spencer was arrested and charged with killing three people in Guntersville.
Six days after his Guntersville arrest the pardon and paroled board requested an arrest warrant be issued for him, while he was already behind bars. The parole board just revoked Spencer's parole 21 days after his arrest for the Guntersville murders.
The WAAY 31 I-Team discovered it took three weeks for Spencer’s parole officer to respond to police in SardiS. Even then he wouldn’t have gone directly back to prison on those charges.
"How many more Jimmy Spencer's are out there that will be paroled?", said Morrow.
Morrow said it's time to re-look at the laws that are blamed for making Spencer eligible for parole, and for mistakes in the notification system.
"We need to revisit that. How did this person get improperly categorized? Who made that mistake? I'd like to know that. If that's why he was paroled then whoever mislabeled him they need to know there are consequences for letting these violent people back in society. We cannot let this happen," said Morrow.
Currently the parole board is paroling inmates at a 54% rate, which worries many families who have upcoming parole hearings for their loved ones killers.