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The WAAY 31 I-Team is digging deeper into proposed changes for Alabama's parole board and what victims' family members say is double talk.
Today, the board was still trying to clarify parts of a 70-page corrective action plan it released last week. The board wrote quote, "victim and law enforcement notification of hearings has not been problematic." Victims' family members call that a bold face lie.
We called the Assistant Executive Director of the parole board, Darrell Morgan, and asked him about the statement in the action plan that said victim notification hasn't been problematic. He said, "The victim notification there has been issues with that all along. I'd be surprised that they would say there wasn't any issues with that."
Morgan said he would speak with executive leadership and clear this up. We called him hours later and he said, "As far as actual mandatory or statutory requirements for notification, that traditionally has not been an issue unless we have bad information."
Jimmy Spencer's victim from Franklin County, who shot him during a robbery, was notified in 2008 and 2013 about Spencer's parole hearing, but he was not notified in 2017. Spencer was paroled and is now charged with killing three people in Guntersville. Morgan said the board misinterpreted the law in that case and that they have since made adjustments. He said they will have a new automatic victim notification system in the future.
"It will help everybody concerned about who gets notified and what manner they get notified, and victims will have a lot more say so," said Morgan.
Tonia Bass, whose brother, Bryan Hutto, was murdered in 2010, told WAAY 31 her family has had problems being notified.
"They notified my husband, who I was not married to when all of this happened. They notified him through an email. He gets the email at 3 o'clock at work. He doesn't know what it is. He can't answer it at work. I get the email late that night when he gets home. I'm furious, because I was suppose to be notified. My mother was supposed to be notified," said Bass.
Bass said she was disappointed the board doesn't see victim notification as problematic.
"That is such lie. They are boldfaced liars," said Bass.
Bass said she felt like the board's second corrective action plan pointed fingers and blamed others for the parole board's issues.
"They do not say anything about what they've done wrong," said Bass. "Time for the drawing board is done. Action needs to be taken. As Alabamians were watching, we want change and we demand change."
Board member accountability is also an issue Governor Kay Ivey highlighted late last year. She strongly recommended making personnel changes to the parole board. Members say that's not needed.
The Governor and Attorney General will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the parole board's second corrective action plan. WAAY 31 will keep you updated with their response.