Inmates already granted parole not stuck in prison
October 23, 2006
Although the parole board has canceled all new hearings, a spokesman said Monday that doesn’t mean inmates won’t be getting out of prison.
The decision Friday was the result of the Nevada Supreme Court ruling that the board must follow the open meeting law. It left many families wondering whether those granted release but not yet out of prison would be left in limbo.
Board Executive Secretary David Smith said those inmates will continue through the process while the board asks the court to reconsider its decision.
“At this point, I don’t know of anything that’s going to stall those parole grants that have already been issued,” he said. “We’ll assume unless there’s an objection raised to those, they will continue to proceed through the system.”
Deputy Corrections Director for Operations Fritz Schlottman echoed that statement.
He said the delay applies only to those inmates who haven’t yet had their parole board hearing.
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“If they have a parole in hand, they’re OK,” he said. “If the parole board has already deliberated their case, they should be getting notified of the results.”
He said those who are granted parole will still be released.
“Let me emphasize, if this gets protracted for some reason, it doesn’t mean they’re stuck in prison forever,” he said.
He said inmates who complete their sentences will still be released.
“If they’re still getting work credits and good time credits, those are still being counted toward your release date.
“So don’t quit your job and don’t be an idiot,” he advised inmates nearing the end of their sentence.
Schlottman said Friday the prison releases an average of 233 male and 33 female inmates to parole every month and, with only a few open beds remaining, shutting down parole could quickly result in overcrowding.
Smith and Board Chairwoman Dorla Salling said conducting inmate hearings under open meeting law standards would require major changes, could add significant amounts of time to each hearing and force the release of confidential and personal information involving not only inmates but their families and victims.
On Friday, the board requested a stay of the ruling saying they want the high court to reconsider that part of its decision and, if they don’t change it, at least let the board continue hearings while they work out how to meet those requirements.
Salling said until they get a stay or work out those procedures, they can’t hold inmate hearings.
“If the Supreme Court issues the stay, we can resume hearings a little more expeditiously,” Smith said.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.