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Pardon and Parole Board Members Charged
Members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board are now facing their own criminal charges. District Attorney David Prater filed multiple charges of violating the state’s open meeting act against members of the board.
Prater filed ten charges against four members of the pardon and parole board. Board member David Moore is only facing 9 charges, since he was absent for one of the meetings where Prater alleges improper activity took place.
The Pardon and Parole executive director Terry Jenks is not facing any charges. He has announced plans to retire from the embattled agency. Prater gave board members the option of staggered resignations in an effort to resolve the case without filing criminal charges. However the board members rejected the offer saying they did nothing wrong.
Court documents indicate investigators with the district attorney’s office conducted a two-and-a-half year review of minutes and agendas from the board.
The board first came under investigation last summer. In a letter to board members Prater said the board was violating the open meetings law by considering inmates for early release without putting their names on publicly posted agendas.
Prater said that because the names were never mentioned on the agenda it was impossible for the public to know which of the inmates were going to be considered for clemency hearings. The inmates being considered were not eligible for parole because they had not yet served 85% of their sentence.
During the investigation, the board suspended the questionable practice and the governor’s office made several recommendations for changes to how the board operated in order to provide more transparency.
Board members have denied any wrongdoing and said they worked to make the parole process as transparent as possible; though they have yet to implement all of the suggestions made by the governor’s office.
In November, Oklahoma voters approved a plan to give the parole board more authority to consider inmates for parole without the consent of the governor’s office.
In a written statement Prater said “Every effort was made by me to resolve this matter in a fair and equitable manner before the filing of the criminal informations. I attempted to dispose of the matter in a structured manner, designed to hold the members of the Pardon and Parole Board accountable, yet calculated to have the least negative effect on the State of Oklahoma and the Pardon and Parole System.”
Calls to the attorneys representing members of the pardon and parole board were not immediately returned. Violations of the open meeting act are a misdemeanor and punishable by a $500 fine or up to one year in jail.
Posted: Wednesday, March 13 2013, 10:20 PM CDT
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Service members clean smashed Okla. veterans park
May 23, 2013 00:44 GMT
MOORE, Okla. (AP) -- With Memorial Day just around the corner and an Oklahoma veterans park in shambles after a tornado, airmen from a local base moved in to spruce things up for the holiday.
Master Sgt. Kimberly Baldwin went to the Veterans Memorial Park where she and her husband Joseph do their daily runs and found the park littered with debris and statues knocked over. By Wednesday, she and other service members from Tinker Air Force Base were at work to clean it up.
Baldwin's sister Marla Moore said the aim is to have the park fixed up by Memorial Day, which is Monday.
Baldwin said the park feels like the "heart of Moore," which was hit Monday by a tornado packing winds over 200 mph. State emergency managers said 24 people died.
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