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December 21, 2014

Shouldn't every parole board (and sentencing commission) include a former inmate?

The question in the title of this post is promoted by this interesting and lengthy New York Times article headlined "Ex­-Inmate on Connecticut Parole Board Brings an Insider’s View to Hearings." Here are exceprts:

There was the usual grab bag of inmates preparing to be heard here, from the career offender with a heroin problem to the plotter of a jewel heist to the glum men with girlfriend trouble. All were former convicts who had landed back in prison on parole violations, and this was their chance to explain their conduct to the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles.

One by one, they were led to rooms at their prisons to participate via teleconference in hearings that dispensed assembly­line justice. Soon, they were offering reasons for their mistakes that ran from the fantastic (“Yes, I had a knife but only because I was cooking”) to the familiar (“My girlfriend made me do it”).

One cog in the machine was different, though: The two-­member panel weighing each inmate’s fate included a man who was himself a former inmate. The expertise that the former prisoner, Kenneth F. Ireland, brought to the task — intimate knowledge of the state’s criminal justice system — came in a way no one could envy: In 1989, a day after he turned 20, Mr. Ireland was convicted of raping and murdering Barbara Pelkey, a Wallingford factory worker.

The crime occurred when he was 16. He received a 50­-year sentence and spent nearly half his life, from the age of 18 until he was 39, in prison. Despite his assertions that he was innocent, friends stopped believing in him, and family drifted away. Then, in 2009, DNA testing performed at the insistence of the Connecticut Innocence Project exonerated him and identified the real culprit.

Rather than spurn further dealings with the authorities, Mr. Ireland, 45, allowed his name to be suggested for a seat on the parole board this year. “I’ve been on the inside, and I understand the programs, the issues confronting the inmates,” he said.

Nominated in October by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, Mr. Ireland is now serving provisionally, along with four other nominees, until state legislators vote on the appointments next year.

Timothy S. Fisher, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, got to know Mr. Ireland through work he does on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. Mr. Fisher championed the idea of adding Mr. Ireland to the board in a letter to Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor, in March.

“He has a very cleareyed understanding of the people in prison,” Mr. Fisher said. “How so many of them say ‘I didn’t do it,’ and yet he’s no fool. He’s been around them and he knows there’s injustice, but he also knows that there are people who will try to pull a fast one. I think he will be a more discerning judge of character on this board than almost anyone.”...

The idea of having Mr. Ireland on the board appears to have originated with Vivien Blackford, a member of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, according to people who supported the appointment. “Having been in prison, he brings so much to the board because he understands the experience, the perspectives and the reasons that people do what they do,” Ms. Blackford said.

Mr. Ireland quit a steady job as a bookkeeper to accept the appointment, which comes with a salary — though that does not seem to be what motivates him

December 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Permalink


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The inmate should not be an educated stealthy infiltrator from the left wing of the Democratic Party.

That being said, you include an inmate, you include a survivor of a the family of a murder victim, or a victim of a violent crime.

Then make them all personally liable for any deviations from professionals standards of due care for the consequences of their carelessness. The parole organization may buy them business liability coverage, after loosing a maniac onto the streets of minority neighborhoods.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 21, 2014 12:23:51 PM


Posted by: Joe | Dec 21, 2014 1:15:31 PM

Yes, I feel that Parole Boards are a lot like the jury's. Uniformed of their rights and more concerned with their prestige. To have an ex-inmate especially one that was found innocent would put a new light on the subject.

Posted by: LC in Texas | Dec 23, 2014 8:42:47 PM

He is "an ex inmate" but there is a huge fact here which makes him totally acceptable. He was innocent. Would some commenters here itchBay had he been an ex guard at a prison? He has insight into cock and bull stories. He has insight into when enough is enough with regard to how much time needs to be served.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 23, 2014 11:37:40 PM

The parole board does not have the resources to determine a false conviction. I have proposed that appeals be made to seasoned investigators for review of a case for mistakes of fact, instead of know nothing, lawyer dumbasses deciding on legal loopholes that bring seething opprobrium on the court by the ordinary citizen, back here on earth. Change the venue, leave the Lawyer Twilight Zone where up is down, and evil is good, all for a few lousy government make work jobs.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 25, 2014 1:09:46 PM

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