Tag Archives: Parole

Parole board rejects exoneration of McKinney

The state Board of Parole has voted against recommending exoneration of a Wilson County man who served 31 years in prison on a rape and burglary conviction before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime, reports The Tennessean.

The board, which voted 7-0 not to recommend the formal exoneration to the governor, still questioned his innocence.

Lawrence McKinney, 60, was released in 2009 after his 1978 conviction in Memphis was overturned. His record was expunged after his release, but attempts to get an executive exoneration have been mired in red tape, according to his supporters.

McKinney remained upbeat as his legal team plans to request an exoneration directly from Gov. Bill Haslam. The governor ultimately decides exoneration cases and is not bound by the board’s recommendation.

“I got two good lawyers that God put by my side, then I got a pastor and I got a church who going to stand behind me, and I’m going to do the best that I do to show who Jesus Christ is and I got a beautiful wife …” McKinney said.

Having criminal records expunged is a judicial process, but exoneration is an additional declaration of innocence awarded by the governor. If granted, the exoneration enables a person to file for compensation with the Tennessee Board of Claims.

“We’re going to go to the governor, we’re going to ask the governor to exonerate this man; he is not bound by this decision and I think public support for Mr. McKinney is overwhelming,” said David Raybin, one of McKinney’s attorneys.

McKinney’s hearing lasted nearly four hours and had the feel of a trial. He testified on his own behalf and said he was offered a deal of five years when he was arrested for the rape to testify against a co-defendant. But he turned it down “because I didn’t know anything about the crime.”

McKinney was sentenced to 100 years for the rape and 10 to 15 years for the burglary. Continue reading

115 prisoners released without mandated anti-violence classes

At least 115 state prison inmates have been released without taking domestic violence classes mandated by the state Board of Paroles, according to WSMV TV.

Board of Parole member Patsy Bruce says she first learned of the situation when an inmate contacted her last year to say the courses on “batterers intervention and victim impact” that he was supposed to take were not available. A check indicated 428 inmates mandates to attend the classes did not do so in a five-month period last year and 115 were released without attending since their sentences expired.

“That’s the scariest thing you can hear – is that you have released somebody, and they are not even getting any kind of help to not do what they’d done many times – or sometimes before,” Bruce said.

Lisa Helton, a Department of Correction field services administrator, said there was a backlog of parolees assigned to classes because there wasn’t enough parole officers to teach them.
The state has since contracted with a private company, called Spectrum, to teach the classes. The 115 inmates already released were offered a chance to take them afterwards, but none did.

Haslam names Duncan, Kustoff to Board of Parole

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed relatives of two prominent Republican political figures — U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. of Knoxville and former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff of Memphis — to seats on the state Board of Parole.

The appointees, listed along with 102 people appointed to 64 different state boards and commissions in a gubernatorial news release last week, are Zane Duncan, a son of the congressman, and Roberta Kustoff, wife of the political activist who headed former President George W. Bush’s Tennessee campaign before being appointed U.S. attorney by Bush.

David Kustoff recently said he is considering whether to seek election as Tennessee’s male representative on the Republican National Committee, succeeding the current Tennessee National Committeeman, John Ryder, who must step down later this year because of an RNC term-limits rule.

Members of the Parole Board are paid a salary of $95,000 per year to sit in panels and decide whether state prison inmates should be granted parole. The panel’s chairman — currently former state Rep. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville — gets $109,334.

Duncan and Kustoff replace two members of the parole board appointed by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, former state Rep. Ronnie Cole of Dyersburg and Patsy Bruce of Nashville.

Haslam also reappointed Tim Gobble, a Republican who formerly served as Bradley County sheriff, to a new six-year term on the board. Gobble was originally appointed to the board by Haslam in 2013 to fill out an unexpired term.

Note: The referenced release on Haslam board and commission appointments is posted HERE.

Board of Parole: Hearing for grape soda killer scheduled by mistake

When the state Board of Parole scheduled a hearing on possible early release of convicted grape soda child killer Mary Lavonne Vaughn, it triggered a round of protests from law enforcement officials. Now, the Kingsport Times-News reports it was a mistake.

BOP communications director Melissa McDonald said she started checking on the Vaughn hearing Tuesday morning after seeing the Times-News online article. McDonald said Mary Vaughn’s hearing seemed to be coming way to early, a sentiment that local authorities shared with the Times-News Monday

“I checked with the Department of Corrections because when they notify us that someone is eligible for a parole hearing we place them on the docket,” McDonald said. “After some further checking, they notified us (Tuesday) to take her off the docket.”

McDonald added, “They have notified us that she should not have been placed on that docket, and we are deleting that hearing.”

On Dec. 4, 2014 Mary Vaughn, 58, and her husband Randall Lee Vaughn, 42, both pleaded guilty to second degree murder and aggravated child abuse for the 2012 murder of Randall Vaughn’s 5-year-old daughter Alexa Linboom.

The (child)… died on Jan. 3, 2012, two days after being forced to consumed a large quantity of grape soda and water as a punishment. Mary and Randall Vaughn were each sentenced to 15 years at 60 percent on the abuse charge, to be followed consecutively by a 20 year sentence at 100 percent for the murder.

The June 15 hearing in Nashville would have determined if Mary Vaughn received parole on the 15 year sentence. If granted she could begin serving the 20 year sentence.

The Vaughns have been incarcerated since February of 2014 when they were indicted.

…The Vaughns lived in Surgoinsville, and Alexa Linboom attended Surgoinsville Elementary School.According to Alexa’s autopsy report, on Jan. 1, 2012, the Vaughns forced her to drink about 2.4 liters of soda and water over a one- to two-hour span.

The massive fluid intake was punishment for Alexa drinking some of Mary Vaughn’s grape soda after being told not to.According to the autopsy, the massive liquid intake caused her brain to swell and herniate.

The couple failed to seek medical attention for Alexa for several hours after she first screamed in pain, and then fell into a paralyzed state and unconsciousness.

Change in state probation supervision praised by prof after being panned by DA, state rep

East Tennessee State University Assistant Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Jennifer Pealer is applauding the Tennessee Department of Correction’s new supervision standards, which include less supervision for low-risk offenders who are on probation and parole, reports Johnson City’s WJHL-TV.

“When I heard about it I was actually very happy that DOC has implemented this type of policy, because it’s actually bringing Tennessee aligned with what the research shows we should be doing and this research has been around for many years,” she said.

The major policy shift now dedicates most of the state’s resources to supervising higher risk offenders, while giving so-called lower risk offenders, including some convicted first and second-degree murderers in our area, a longer leash. TDOC determines an offender’s risk using an assessment program.

Although some fear the change increases the risk to the public, Dr. Pealer, who specializes in corrections, believes the new policy is best for public safety.

“It’s what the research calls the risk principal,” Dr. Pealer said. “Research is pretty clear that the severity of crime is not that big of indicator about whether they’re going to go out and re-offend. Most murderers do not go out and re-offend. The beauty of the Tennessee Department of Correction’s policy is that they are not basing it on their gut.”
Dr. Pealer has read much of the same research that prompted TDOC to make the significant change in supervision standards. Instead of checking in regularly to a probation office, she says lower risk offenders should be allowed to work and surround themselves with others who are actually productive members of society.

…Since our stories first aired earlier this week, TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield has reached out directly to Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus and Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-District 1). Both men tell us they received a letter from the commissioner giving them the chance to clear up any of their concerns about the new policy directly with him.

On Friday, News Channel 11 confirmed that Governor Bill Haslam’s office was notified of the changes by TDOC.

DA Staubus and Rep. Lundberg previously said they were outraged by the new standards and told us TDOC implemented the change back in August without asking for their input or even giving them a heads up it was on the way. TDOC’s deputy commissioners previously admitted the agency could have done a better job of letting “key players” know the change was in the works.

Retiring Rep. Rich appointed to $95K parole board seat

State Rep. Barrett Rich has been appointed to the state Board of Parole by Gov. Bill Haslam, becoming the third former state representative to serve on the seven-member panel that deals with parole and clemency requests from inmates at state prisons.

The appointment of Rich, R-Somerville, is effective Nov. 5, the day after the general election when Rich’s term representing House District 94 officially ends, according to Haslam spokesman David Smith. The state constitution prohibits a state legislator from accepting a position in the executive branch during his or her term in office.

The Board of Parole is currently chaired by Richard Montgomery, a former Republican state representative from Sevierville. Also on the panel is Ronnie Cole, a former Democratic legislator from Dyersburg who was appointed to his current six-year term on the board – his second — in 2010 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Barrett, who announced in April that he would not seek a new term as state representative, will become the fifth Haslam appointee to serve on the panel. He succeeds Joe Hill of Union City, a 2008 Bredesen appointee who had previously served for years as a top aide to former Democratic Congressmen Ed Jones and John Tanner.

A Board of Parole position pays just over $95,000 per year in salary. As chairman, Montgomery earns more – just over $109,000, according to a state website providing state employee salaries.

Leigh Rosser Wilburn of Somerville won the Republican nomination to succeed Rich on Aug. 7. There is no Democratic candidate for the seat.

Note: Current members of the Board of Parole are listed HERE.

Former Nashville policeman named to Board of Parole

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed a law enforcement veteran to the state’s Board of Parole.

Gary M. Faulcon spent 25 years with the Nashville Police Department.

During that time, he was assigned to various divisions including background and recruitment, criminal investigations, vice and the special weapons and tactics team. He was also commander of the bomb squad.

Haslam believes Faulcon’s background in criminal justice will be an asset to the board.

Faulcon’s appointment became effective on Monday and will continue through Dec. 31, 2017.

Gobble Appointment Inspires Ethical Questions

Cari Wade Gervin provides a detailed critique of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble’s appointment of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble by Gov. Bill Haslam to the state Board of Parole under the headline, “Haslam’s New Parole Board Appointee Doesn’t Believe in Separation of Church and State or, Apparently, Ethics.”
An excerpt:
In February, Gobble resigned from his position after a string of malfeasances, including abusing the city’s Facebook page; hiring a 19-year old friend from church he referred to as his “Jedi Knight” as the city’s communications director at $35,000 a year and then, when realizing that the appointment violated city code, deleting the code from the website in the hopes that no one would find out; threatening and suspending a court clerk over a case Gobble’s daughter was involved in; and even using his city credit card to pay for regular trips to Baskin Robbins as a “justifiable business expense.” (The last one we can at least understand — ice cream is pretty necessary to human existence.)
….And it’s true, Gobble does have lots of experience in law enforcement, which is conceivably a good quality for someone tasked with the ability to grant offenders parole. However, it turns out that Gobble wasn’t really good at those jobs either. He was reportedly fired from his position in the Secret Service and forced to resign from his position as director of the Bradley County Emergency Agency for violations of the Hatch Act — i.e., the law that prevents people using their offices to conduct campaign activities on the job. (Similar violations had previously forced him off the Cleveland City Council.)
Then, just before Gobble left his job as Bradley County Sheriff, the jail almost lost its certification with the Tennessee Corrections Institute for overcrowding, mold in the kitchen, and standing water in at least one cell. But all of that was ok with Gobble, we guess, because it seems his main concern with running a prison wasn’t maintaining it but rather bringing prisoners to Jesus. In a rather long essay, apparently penned while on the job and then posted to the actual official Bradley County Sheriff’s website, Gobble explains how “Our Christian Heritage” — that’s the essay’s title — is influencing how he runs his jail.

Former Bradley County Sheriff Named to Parole Board

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Tim Gobble of Cleveland to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor.
Gobble’s appointment becomes effective Tuesday, July 16 and the term expires December 31, 2015. (Note: A board member is paid $93,732 per year.)
“Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Haslam said. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important capacity.”
Gobble has been interim deputy chief in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office since May, returning after serving as deputy chief in 2010-2011. He served as city manager of East Ridge from April 2011-February 2013. Gobble was the sheriff of Bradley County from 2006-2010.
He served as director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency from 2004-2006 and was a special agent and supervisor in the United States Secret Service from 1989-2004, serving in Nashville, Houston, Washington D.C. and Chattanooga. He was a police officer in Cleveland from 1988-1989.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Haslam, for whom I have great admiration and respect,” Gobble said. “I look forward to serving and working with Chairman Montgomery, other Parole Board members, Parole Board staff and relevant stakeholders in the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”
Haslam named Richard Montgomery chairman of the Board of Parole on July 1.
Gobble received a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University, in 1986. He and his wife, Christie, have been married 25 years and have two daughters and one son.

Note: The Tennessean adds some background not included in the news release:
The move comes five months after Gobble was removed as the city manager of East Ridge, a Chattanooga suburb, after a tumultuous two years on the job.
Gobble ran into criticism for a decision to hire a member of his church as a personal assistant and for his disciplining of the city’s court clerks in a case involving his daughter.
Gobble was hired almost immediately by Hamilton County and given oversight of the jail. Gobble also has served as sheriff of Bradley County, director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and a special agent and supervisor in the U.S. Secret Service

UPDATE: And there’s this from Nooga.com:
Asked how he reconciled his pick with Gobble’s recent experience in East Ridge, Haslam declined to comment on the issue and instead focused on his other roles in public life.
“I mean, I can’t really speak for both sides of that issue,” Haslam said. “But I think from what I’ve seen of Tim, both as Bradley County sheriff, his time in Hamilton County and his federal government Secret Service work, I think he can add to the program.”

Former Rep. Montgomery Named Chairman of Parole Board

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Richard Montgomery as chairman of the Board of Parole. Montgomery replaces Charles Traughber who retired last week after serving nearly 40 years on the board, much of that time as chairman.
“I am grateful for Chairman Traughber’s many years of service and dedication to our state,” Haslam said. “His experience and counsel was extremely helpful as we restructured the board to transition probation services to the Department of Correction to provide a more seamless and accountable process.
“Richard will do an outstanding job for the citizens of Tennessee in this new role,” Haslam continued. “His passion for the citizens and welfare of this state are well known, and he has the right balance of compassion and common sense to lead this important organization.”
Montgomery, 66, was appointed to the Board of Parole in January. Prior to that, he served 14 years in the General Assembly representing Sevier County. He served as chairman of the House Education Committee and was a member of other key committees including the House Commerce Committee, the Select Committee on Corrections Oversight, the Calendar and Rules Committee, the Joint Lottery Scholarship Committee, the Joint Education Oversight Committee, the Joint Workers’ Compensation Oversight Committee, and the Select Committee on Children and Youth.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to be selected by the governor to chair this important board,” Montgomery said. “I feel fortunate to be working alongside such dedicated and knowledgeable staff and board members. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to serve the citizens of Tennessee in this capacity.”
Montgomery is retired from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was operations manager for UT-Battelle for 27 years. He has also served on the Sevier County Board of Education along with several other community boards.
A graduate of Hiawassee Junior College and the University of Tennessee, Montgomery received the Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award in 2012 from the Tennessee Business Roundtable. He also received the 2012 Leader in Education Legislative Award from the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. In 2010, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Tennessee Hospitality Association, and the Tennessee County Officials Association named him Legislator of the Year in 2002.
Montgomery and his wife, Ann, live in Sevierville and have a grown daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Monte Miller, and a granddaughter, Josephine Clair.