A couple of clever Grits commenters suggested some good ones, so I thought I'd make them their own post andwe'd start from there. I'd ask you, Grits readers, to add to this list of questions that should be asked in writing of the Board of Pardons and Parole Chair Rissie Owens:
1) How many parole applicants have you actually met?Those are pretty good ones! I would add these, offhand:
2) How long do you spend on each parole application?
3) how many parole applicants are denied, even when they have satisfied conditions set at previous parole hearings?
4) What makes you think that an inmate coming up for parole after 20 years in prison is the same risk level as when they committed to original crime? Are you the same person you were 20 years ago?
5) Do 'parole packets' submitted by inmate's families and supporters have any effect on the Board's decision?
6) Why do you do your particular job? What do you think qualifies you to do it?
7) How many paroles are granted to inmates with lawyers compared to inmates without laawyers, detailed by risk level and offense severity?
8) Given Texas recent history of many convicted innocent people having been exonerated, should assertions of innocence be held against parole applicants, and if so why?So tell me gentle readers: What other questions have you got? Let me know what else you'd like to know from Ms. Owens, and perhaps we'll submit the questions in writing and see what happens? To give you a little more background to formulate your questions, see these prior Grits posts:
9) Are you aware when you make parole decisions whether an applicant is a trustee, and does that favor the applicant or make it more likely that they won't be released, particularly if they have a special skill?
10) Besides DWI offenders, who you've said you think need to be reclassified, are there any other specific reasons the parole board is not meeting its minimum release guidelines for releasing Level 6 and 7 offenders?