Georgia Parole Review Winter/Spring 2021 - Page 5

Due to COVID-19, appropriate protocol was followed during the public meeting.

Two Parole Board Members attended in person while the two other members attended via conference call along with members of the public. (New Board Member Meg Heap was not appointed until January 19, 2021.)

During the meeting, the Board Members and the public received a presentation from Communications Director Steve Hayes as he highlighted the agency's FY 2020 Annual Report. (Video)

The Parole Board Pardons Former Offender at the August 2020 Meeting

Sheffield was in the NFL, in prison, paroled and now pardoned

At the August 2020 monthly meeting of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, a former offender addressed the Parole Board.

Christopher Sheffield spoke to the Board about his life, including a successful pro football career, addiction, prison, parole, and recovery. Sheffield says the difference between many offenders who receive parole and him, was a decision he made.

“I made a conscious decision to turn my will and my life over to God.”

(Click on photos for video)

Sheffield was paroled in 1997. His 10-year sentence was commuted in 2003 and his political and civil rights were restored at that time.

Today, he is the manager of the Georgia Pines Community Service Board’s Addictions Recovery Support Center in Thomasville and he’s a certified addictions counselor.

Sheffield says the Parole Board's system works.

“I’m here to tell you this morning, the work that you do is relevant and the system (parole) that you have created is effective. From my life experience, it works.”

Following his presentation, Sheffield was presented with a pardon by Parole Board Chairman Terry Barnard.

“The process to apply for a pardon is no small thing. It is an act of official forgiveness by the state of Georgia and Chris’ presentation today is further indication that he is certainly deserving of being pardoned,” stated Barnard.

Sheffield had previously completed the pardon application but had not yet been notified of the Board’s decision.

Sheffield became emotional and stated that he wished his mother, who passed away in 1999, was present in order to witness that he had fulfilled the promises she had asked of him.

During his presentation, Sheffield told the Board that offenders leaving the system need to be prepared for the opportunities that come. (See Sheffield Page 6)

“Because of the opportunity the Parole Board gave me, I then was able to re-educate myself and position myself to educate and re-educate others and that’s been the most gratifying thing that I’ve received,” stated Sheffield.

“I think God has allowed me to exist and possibly even created me from the beginning to be in this position so that I can assist those who do not know the way from point A to point B.

I want to tell you that if you had not given me the opportunity to change my life in 1997, then I would have spent the remainder of that ten-year sentence in that institution and God knows where I would be today,” he added.

Sheffield played pro football with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions.

The video of the August Parole Board meeting is available on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles' website and you can read more about the parole and pardon processes at www.pap.georgia.gov.

Monthly Board Meetings

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More than 70% of Georgia offenders on parole successfully complete parole supervision, well above the national average.

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