I have recently become aware that the Parole Board audio records parole hearings, but as a matter of policy erases or destroys the recordings after 18 months.
I am also aware of a Commonwealth’s Attorney who is dealing with a post-conviction matter in an “Innocence Project” case in which the defendant is being represented by a Public Defender from the Department of Public Advocacy. The prisoner now claims to be innocent of the murder for multiple reasons apart from the DNA tests.
However, during a Parole Board hearing held a few years ago, the prisoner confessed to committing the murder.
Fortunately, the victim’s mother obtained a copy of the recording of the hearing from the Parole Board before it was erased and was able to provide the recording to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for use as evidence. But for the diligence of the victim’s mother this confession would have been lost.
It goes without saying that in the interest of justice:
The Parole Board and the Justice Cabinet (which provides administrative support to the Parole Board) should immediately change the erasure/destruction policy and retain the recordings of the parole hearings until the prisoner serves out his sentence at least in cases of homicide (all degrees) and other crimes that are class A and B felonies.
The Parole Board should supply a copy of the recording of the parole hearing to office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney which prosecuted the case so the prosecutor could store the recording in the prosecutor’s files should it have potential value for use as evidence.