Parole board should change procedure
BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, December 10, 2012
12/10/12 at 2:44 AM
It should not be this complicated.
If the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board plans to consider the early release of an inmate, that inmate's name should be posted in the public agenda and notice of the hearing should be sent to the prosecutor in the case.
But it apparently isn't that simple.
Last week, the board put off making changes to a procedure that angered Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater to the point he launched a criminal investigation of the board.
At issue are times when the board voted on recommendations that an inmate be considered for possible early parole or sentence commutation.
In August, Prater claimed that the board violated the state Open Meetings Act by not giving notice to the public or prosecutors in those instances. He claimed the board was trying to operate in secrecy and launched a criminal investigation.
In November, the board discussed changing the procedure so that the names would be listed on public meeting agendas.
On Tuesday, however, the board's chairman, Marc Dreyer, said any changes would be delayed until May or early summer to provide time for anyone who wants to comment on the procedure to do so.
"Part of why we're even considering revising our policy was because of a realization that we weren't doing it as clearly and effectively as we could do it and so we stopped," Dreyer said.
That acknowledgement shows some sensitivity to the need by this important board to post all agenda items.
The criminal investigation, launched by Prater, has gone on a long time and needs to come to some conclusion. By the same token, the board needs to expand its posting policy to include anyone being considered for release. The board can still take public comments about how to improve the policy but there's no compelling reason for this matter to drag on into early summer.
Original Print Headline: Post the names
Last week, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board delayed making changes in a posting procedure until next May or early summer. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file