Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Parole board member resigns over disturbing conduct at parole interviews

Donald Ruzicka, who recently faced scrutiny for playing games involving inmates at parole hearings, submitted his resignation from the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Board Chairman Kenneth C. Jones accepted the resignation, according to a news release.
“The parole board plays an important role in the public safety of Missouri communities by having the authority to grant parole or conditional release to offenders incarcerated in Missouri prisons,” Jones said in the statement.
“Members of the board must be held to a higher standard in order to do the work that is requested of them to ensure that all parties involved are equally heard during the hearing process before a final decision is made.”
Last week, a human rights law firm called on Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to remove Ruzicka from the board for toying with inmates during hearings.
A previously undisclosed state investigation found that Ruzicka and an unidentified Department of Corrections employee entertained themselves at some parole hearings by trying to get inmates to say words and song titles such as “platypus” and “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.”
They even kept score, according to corrections department Inspector General Amy Roderick’s report. Her report concluded that Ruzicka and the employee who attended parole hearings violated a governor’s executive order and other procedures by failing to conduct state government in a manner that “inspires confidence and trust.”
“The reports of Mr. Ruzicka’s actions were disturbing,” Greitens said in a prepared statement. “Playing games at parole board hearings is unacceptable behavior. I’m grateful to Board Chairman Kenny Jones and Director Anne Precythe for their leadership. Our criminal justice system must keep people safe and protect the dignity of all Missourians.”
Precythe, the new director of the corrections department, wouldn’t comment last week about when she first heard of the inspector general report.
The Nov. 1 report wasn’t publicized until Thursday, when the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at St. Louis released it.
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