Who should be released from jail early.. and why? That’s the question some local lawmakers and police are asking.
they are taking that concern over parole right to Georgia legislators.
A new bill that Representative Jesse Petrea plans to introduce would give 6 months to District Attorneys and Police to fight a violent criminal’s release from prison on parole.
Right now they only have 3 days.
“Jesse and I don’t have all the answers. we don’t even have all the questions,” explained Julian Miller, Savannah City Councilman.
Councilman Julian Miller and Representative Jesse Petrea did have one statement to make.
“Any early release needs to be brought to the attention of the DA and the police department that are here to protect us,” said Miller. “Its not just the chance to be able to respond but to know those responses have to be heard.”
The two lawmakers stood in unison Tuesday to call for a change to the amount of time investigators have to respond to a parole request, and the ability to challenge that request before it goes to the Georgia Board of Paroles and Pardons.
“Not everyone deserves that clemency and violent offenders are the ones who deserve it least,” said Petrea.
The lawmakers aren’t asking for information about all parolees, they are only talking about the most violent offenders, less than 3% of all criminals who are paroled. 152 of whom have been re-arrested since the beginning of 2016, and 24 of of whom were convicted of a new violent crime since last year.
“Parole is not a right its a privilege,” said Meg Heap. “I kind of think that you need to look at what they are doing in prison. If you are acting out and cant even do what you need to do in prison then the last problem Savannah needs to do is have this person out on the streets.””
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap has asked the Parole Board for more time to challenge releases, and more answers on why they are released for months now.
Answers about how violent criminals like Willie Doyle could be released from prison early..or at all.
“The police investigate, we all prosecute, the defense defends, the judge sentences and then you get convicted and its all a secret. And what you base your consideration on parole is a secret. I don’t understand that.” said a defiant Heap. “Why is the whole system until you are in prison and we are going to let you out but we don’t have to tell you why? What did you base your decision? Why did you let this person out? You tell me its a state secret and i don’t understand.”
Its a question Representative Petrea also believes needs to be answered.
“Should the parole board have to answer to someone for their decisions?”
“I think that’s correct,” said Petrea. “I think so absolutely. the public has the right to know why some of the most egregious individuals are being granted parole.”
“So you’d like to step up to the parole board and tell them give us an answer.”
“More transparency, allow us to have input allow the community to have input allow us to know why you make these decisions with these high profile individuals you want to do.”
Representative Petrea’s bill will include the six month notice on violent offenders parole, but there could be more provisions added.
He is asking for the public to tell him what else they think needs to be changed.
There’s a public meeting Thursday at Calvary Baptist Church
on Waters ave.
It will be a forum about criminals and parole in Chatham County.. where the people have a say about the entire process.
The forum runs from 6-8pm.