Court

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has resumed hearing parole cases, after a two-month delay.

“Foremost, inmates do not have an innate right to be paroled, they must earn such a privilege,” said Judge Charlie Graddick, state Pardon and Paroles director. “Parole consideration dates legally are determined by calculations based on various factors. I will follow the law, as I know will the board. Our first priority must be the safety of every man, woman and child in Alabama.

“The innocent shouldn’t be put in harm’s way. Let us not gamble with innocent lives.”

Three Lee County convicts were up for consideration Tuesday.

Charleston George was sentenced in 2009 for a first-degree robbery involving Momma Goldberg’s Deli in Auburn. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. This is George’s third prison sentence. He was previously sentenced in 2000 for three years and again to 12 years on probation for two first-degree robberies.

Alonzo John Goines was sentenced in 2013 for two counts of first-degree robbery in Russell County. He was given 20 years after he robbed a store, using a firearm. He previously was sentenced to three years after a first-degree robbery in Lee County.

Thomas Edward Howard is Lee County’s third parole hearing on Tuesday. Howard was sentenced in 2008 for robbing a Chevron store in Auburn, first-degree robbery, with a gun. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

The outcomes of the local trio’s parole bids had not been announced as the Opelika-Auburn News went to press Tuesday night.

The former state attorney general and Mobile County circuit judge said previously that inmates don’t have a right to parole. He says they must earn the privilege of an early release. And he is advocating for extra care in cases involving violent crimes.

Alabama’s prisons are badly overcrowded, and advocacy groups are expressing concern about Graddick’s remarks.

More than 600 hearings were postponed when Graddick canceled hearings that were scheduled for September and October. He says the delay was required because the agency hadn’t brought notification policies into compliance with a new state law.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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