OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is expected to tap a new executive director in July, said chairwoman Vanessa Price.
The action comes after several changes in leadership and a relatively new, five-member board.
Van M. Guillotte on May 11 abruptly resigned as executive director of the Pardon and Parole Board after 25 days on the job.
“Even though I held the position for 25 working days, I believe it is in the best interest of the agency for it to be guided by another individual,” he said in a letter to Price. “I am vacating the position so the board is free to find that individual that will take the agency to the next level.”
He could not be reached for comment.
“I think generally it was not a good fit for him or the agency,” said Jennifer Chance, deputy general counsel for Gov. Mary Fallin.
Before Guillotte resigned, former Lt. Gov. Jari Askins briefly served as executive director when the agency was under duress following allegations it had violated the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act for failing to appropriately post agenda information.
Prior to that, the agency’s then-deputy director, Tracy George, served as interim director following the retirement of longtime director Terry Jenks.
“The governor is happy with the direction the Pardon and Parole Board is moving,” said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman.
Price has improved the process of notifying victims about upcoming hearings, something that had been a concern for a while, Weintz said.
“The current board and their philosophy on criminal justice is more aligned with that of Gov. Fallin,” he said.
Fallin is interested in getting nonviolent offenders with drug or mental health issues who are responsive to treatment out of correctional facilities and into rehabilitation, Weintz said.
“If you are a violent offender and, in our position, represent a threat to the community, then you can do your time,” Weintz said.
In the past, the board had recommended a lot of potential parolees who had been convicted of violent crimes, Weintz said.
Possible parole consideration has been used as an incentive to induce good behavior.
Chance said several other factors, such as security level and certain privileges, also induce good behavior.
“Generally speaking, when we are talking about letting people out of prison before their sentence is completed, the people Gov. Fallin is interested in looking at are nonviolent offenders,” Weintz said.
Price said the agency received about 20 applicants for the post. The salary ranges from $90,000 to $110,000.