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WAAY 31 I-Team: Alabama parole board director asks employees against changes to speak out

He says the bills “are not in the best interest of the agency and State.”

Posted: May 2, 2019 1:12 PM
Updated: May 2, 2019 6:58 PM

In an email obtained by WAAY 31, Eddie Cook, the executive director of the state pardon and parole board, encourages employees who agree with him to voice their opinions against two bills that could impact the parole board.

He says the bills “are not in the best interest of the agency and State.”

Eddie Cook Jr

House Bill 380 and Senate Bill 42 both give the governor more power over the parole board, put a stop to early paroles and strengthen victim notification.

The legislation was introduced at the behest of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. Marshall and other state officials have cited numerous problems at the parole board, largely because of a WAAY 31 I-Team investigation.

Marshall and Gov. Kay Ivey both agree that Jimmy Spencer, who was paroled and now stands accused of murdering three people in Guntersville, was 'recklessly and wrongfully paroled.'

The parole board was also bringing up many inmates for early parole, until the governor put a stop to that in October.

In the email sent by Cook to all employees of the pardon and parole board, he says, "I do not believe for a millisecond the Board of Pardons and Paroles is Broken."

Cook went on to say in the email that any employee is allowed to drive their state-issued vehicles to Montgomery to contest the bills.

WAAY 31 has reached out to the Attorney General's Office concerning the email Cook sent. They said they are looking into the matter. WAAY 31 has also reached out to the State Ethics Commission for clarification on Alabama's Ethics Laws.

Alabama state law says the following: "Ala Code 17-17-5(c) states (in part) that "It shall be unlawful for any officer or employee to coerce or attempt to coerce any subordinate to work in any capacity in any political campaign or cause."

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