The State Board of Pardons and Paroles is continuing its public safety mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, all Parole Board employees began an enhanced telework schedule. The Executive Director of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Chris Barnett, says core mission operations have not been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Georgia state government as a whole was prepared for this unexpected event. As an agency, the Parole Board was well positioned to answer the call as this pandemic grew,” says Barnett. “Our parole staff have the knowledge, technology and equipment to complete their roles and responsibilities from anywhere in the state. We have a terrific workforce, composed of law enforcement professionals, who are dedicated to fulfilling the agency’s critical public safety role, even during these unprecedented times.”
From case initialization, investigation, rating, evaluation, and presentation, to the actual Parole Board voting, all aspects of the Georgia inmate executive clemency consideration process have been handled through an electronic process for years, which allows for the uninterrupted service delivery to the citizens of Georgia. However, this wasn’t always the case. Over the past decade and a half, the Parole Board has worked hard to increase its operational capabilities through technology enhancements to enable staff to become more effective and efficient in their roles and responsibilities regardless of their physical work location.
There are many advantages to working from alternative work-sites, such as from a residence or in the field investigating a case for clemency consideration. Access to real time information, instantaneous data transfers, etc.; all cut down on the administrative resource demand of our employees and enhances their efficiency, allowing a greater amount of time to be spent on the details of the investigation, leading to a better quality product.
“The best use of resources comes from systematically reviewing operations in order to meet changing public safety challenges. Often our work takes us away from the office and we have to have that capability,” adds Barnett.
The five Parole Board Members have been voting cases electronically from their home offices for several years now. The parole decision making process continues states Parole Board Chairman Terry Barnard.
“The Parole Board is operating normally and will continue to use its constitutional authority to make clemency release decisions in the interest of public safety,” said Barnard.
“The parole staff continues to ensure the case files are complete in order for the board members to make these critical parole decisions,” says Barnard. “Their commitment to quality work is easily seen when we review the case files.”
The state inmate population saw a significant drop this spring as releases continued and admissions declined in part due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Georgia’s criminal justice system is sound,” states Director Barnett. “The state inmate population is down, the county jail population is down, both of which assist the administrators of these facilities to take the appropriate mitigation action when dealing with the COVID-19 virus. This is a team approach, all working together to ensure we make the right decisions that will lead to a safer Georgia and ultimately save lives.”
(*This article originally was originally published in the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Newsletter)
Agency Completes Mission During Pandemic