MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The stage is set for Alabama to resume parole hearings next month, but in a new way because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
An order issued Monday by Gov. Kay Ivey allows the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to hold hearings for inmates seeking early release without in-person participation from the public. The three-member board could meet by telephone or over the internet.
Hearings will resume the week of May 18, and crime victims and others can submit comments in writing, Charlie Graddick, the director of the agency, said in a statement. People who can’t write can call.
The agency had suspended hearings at its offices in Montgomery because of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines.
“This allows us to hold hearings while protecting the health and safety of crime victims, families, advocates, the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Bureau staff,” Graddick said. ”This order also protects the rights of crime victims to have a 30-day notice of parole hearings and to have a chance to participate meaningfully in the hearings.”
Some had complained that the moratorium could lead to an increase in the state's already overcrowded prison system and present health risks for inmates at risk of contracting the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.