Cameron, Steele praise order against parole board

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UPDATE POSTED 1 P.M. JUNE 18, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele today issued statements following the granting of a temporary restraining order against the Kentucky Parole Board.

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The restraining order prohibits the Parole Board from giving a new parole hearing to more than 40 Kentucky prisoners whom the Board previously ordered to serve out their life sentences for charges including murder, rape, and kidnapping.

Cameron and Steele jointly filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Commonwealth and crime victims challenging the legality of the Board’s directive.

The Attorney General issued the following statement:

“We are grateful that the court acted with urgency to grant the temporary restraining order and stop the Parole Board from giving new hearings to 45 convicted criminals who are responsible for some of the worst crimes in recent history.  The Parole Board failed to provide the court with a valid reason for the new policy.  We will continue to fight in court on behalf of Kentucky crime victims and prosecutors to ensure that the Board’s directive is permanently stopped.”  

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele issued the following statement:

“When victims are finally told that those responsible for carrying out a crime against their loved one will serve out their sentence, they feel like they can close out a painful chapter and start the healing process.  For a government agency to open it all back up, like the Parole Board did, is terrible.  We have to stop it, and we have to be there for crime victims to ensure that this directive can never be implemented.”

The temporary restraining order was issued by Laurel and Knox Circuit Court Judge Michael O. Caperton and can be viewed here.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 5 P.M. JUNE 14, 2021

KNOX COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Knox Circuit Court granted Attorney General Daniel Cameron a temporary restraining order against a new directive from the state’s parole board.

Cameron sued the board Friday over the order, which would grant more than 40 prisoners a new chance at parole after they were previously denied any future chances at parole. It’s a move that would undo that sentence.

Cameron claims the policy gives “the worst of the worst” a second chance at having life-in-prison sentences cut short.

He was joined by Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele in filing the lawsuit.

Steele said the new directive would force the families of murder, kidnap and rape victims to relive those crimes.

He also said the parole board doesn’t have the legal authority to issue the change because he said the board failed to follow the regulation process set by state law. That includes legislative review and a public comment period.

Attorneys also said the policy violates Marsy’s Law, which ensures crime victims are kept up-to-date about convicted criminals.

But the parole board says the constitution requires due process and lawyers say the board is caught in the middle.

Lawyers also say the new directive doesn’t violate Marsy’s Law because victims will be given a 45 day notice before a hearing. They say they understand the pain families might be going through.

“We’re not trying to undercut that or minimize that, but at the same time, the parole board has to follow the law,” the Parole Board said. “It has to follow the constitution and it has to provide due process.”

“There’s times when they cry on the way up. They cry on the way back,” Steele said. They don’t have a decision that day. They’re waiting and waiting and waiting, and the victims in this case – they’ve already been through that.”