Crime victims get voices heard by Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles

When a criminal comes up for parole, the anxiety of what’s next can cripple their victims. The Georgia Sate Board of Pardons and Paroles say they’re connecting with victims to keep them included and make the board trauma-informed.

Crime victims get voices heard by Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles

AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) - Organizers say 150 crime victims met in Augusta today to face their biggest fears. They met with members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

It’s part of the board’s 13th annual state-wide victims input day. People - from across the state and even further - got the chance to talk directly to the parole board and give them information for their perpetrator’s case file and ask questions about the parole process.

That's important because there are no parole hearings in the state of Georgia.

Going before the board brings a unique perspective for Assistant district Attorney Ashley Muller. Her best friend was killed years ago and dismembered by a classmate.

“The uncertainty, the time period that it takes to get a case before the judge and also the stress of deciding do we take this case to trial, do we do a plea, I understand all of that," Muller said.

Members of the board say the process of parole begins with the victim’s impact statement. At Tuesday’s event, speakers stressed the importance of victims documenting why the accused should not be released.

“Their voices are always accounted. We give a lot of deference to victims, those issues are very important for us to understand what they’re going through, how the crime has affected them and it actually does affect the decisions, as well," said Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman Terry Barnard.

The comments victims make are permanent and will be on the case file for as long as the individual serves his or her sentence.

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