Lawmaker mulls more openness for parole board

State Rep. Kevin Tanner was a Dawson County deputy sheriff when Keith Evans was beaten and shot to death in 1991. Tanner says the case stuck with him as he and others waited — for one decade, then two, then more — for the execution of one of Evans’ killers, Tommy Lee Waldrip.

Hours before Waldrip’s scheduled execution this summer, however, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted him clemency, blocking the execution and amending his sentence to life in prison. The decision, which the board will not publicly explain, left Evans’ family facing “the unknown — not understanding why,” said Tanner, R-Dawsonville.

Tanner is considering legislation to force the parole board to follow strict criteria in granting clemency or other relief to felons, such as restoring their firearms rights. He also thinks the board should issue public reports on its decisions.

The more open the board’s work, Tanner said, “the more the public will trust the decision. … The people expect wherever possible to have transparency.”

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