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Government/Politics

Former Senator Slams Parole Board Members, Saying They Lack "Integrity, Decency"

The Ohio Parole Board met to hear the clemency case of convicted killer and death row inmate Ronald Phillips in December 2016. Sen. Shirley Smith is second from right.
Karen Kasler
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The Ohio Parole Board met to hear the clemency case of convicted killer and death row inmate Ronald Phillips in December 2016. Sen. Shirley Smith is second from right.

A former state senator has left the Ohio Parole Board, saying there are serious problems with how the prisons system is operated.

Former Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) spent three years on the parole board, but left last month out of what she calls “sheer frustration”.

“They operate without any integrity. They don’t seem to care about humanity. And they don’t operate with any decency," said Smith.

Smith said board members can miss hearings and still vote on cases, that they too often fall on the side of prosecutors and victims, and that the board and staff aren’t diverse. She said she’s talked to lawmakers who are considering changes they can make.

A prisons spokesperson hasn’t responded to all these claims, but has said that Gov. Mike DeWine’s nominee to head the agency will be looking to add members to create an inclusive and diverse parole board.

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