Politics

Bill Aims To Increase Transparency At State Parole Board

Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, James Mills, left, and Terry Barnard, prepare to hear a clemency hearing in the case of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill Friday, July 13, 2012, in Atlanta. Hill's attorneys claim he is mentally disabled and should not be executed next week. Georgia was the first state to ban executing mentally disabled death row inmates, but the case of Hill has highlighted the state's strictest-in-the-nation standard for proving mental disability.  (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, James Mills, left, and Terry Barnard, prepare to hear a clemency hearing in the case of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill Friday, July 13, 2012, in Atlanta. Hill's attorneys claim he is mentally disabled and should not be executed next week. Georgia was the first state to ban executing mentally disabled death row inmates, but the case of Hill has highlighted the state's strictest-in-the-nation standard for proving mental disability. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles Tuesday denied clemency to Warren Lee Hill. He was put to death later that night.

The five-member board, which is appointed by the governor, doesn’t have to explain its ruling or make available to the public any document related to the decision. It has largely operated in secret since its creation in 1943.

A new House proposal, however, aims to change that. Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is sponsoring the bill.

“It’s just trying to increase transparency in the system and really bring that agency into the 21st century,” Tanner said.

Under the proposal, the board would have to produce a publicly available report explaining any votes concerning pardons or commuting a death sentence. It would also require notification for victims before the board votes to restore any rights to offenders.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that the board restored gun rights to more than 650 convicted felons in 2013. Nearly 200 of those felons were convicted of murder, rape, child molestation or other violent crimes.