- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - State Board of Pardons and Paroles officials say they’ve made headway in clearing a months-long case backlog.

Despite the progress, board member Robert Longshore told the Anniston Star (https://bit.ly/1kbDxZg ) that cutting down the backlog is unlikely to help the state address prison overcrowding. The board had been hearing about 80 cases a day last year to address to backlog, the newspaper reported.

“We were surprised when our docket staff came to us, within the last three months, and said the docket’s clear,” Longshore said.

One issue that held up many cases was a state law requiring victims of violent crimes to be present and speak during their offender’s hearing, Longshore said.

Victims can be hard to find and some don’t respond to the board’s request for them to appear at hearings. The organization, Victims of Crime and Leniency, typically argues against releasing inmates if their victims don’t appear before the board. The hearings typically last less than 15 minutes and inmates aren’t required to be present.

“We know what they’re going to say, anyway,” said Janette Grantham of Victims of Crime and Leniency. “They’ve found Jesus, and they want to go out and be a good example. That’s what they all say.”

Instead of appearing in person, offenders meet with a parole officer who files a recommendation that goes into the Parole Board’s file on the inmate.

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Information from: The Anniston Star, https://www.annistonstar.com/

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