• Brandon Colvin

Former Senator Cam Ward sworn in at Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

As of Monday morning, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles has a new director, former state senator, Cam Ward. Governor Kay Ivy appointed Ward to the post in November after the resignation of former director Charlie Graddick.

Graddick, a former judge and state attorney general, had held the directorship for only 14 months before his exit. Under his leadership, the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles came under intense scrutiny after a January report by the ACLU of Alabama cited declines in the number of parole requests considered and granted. Between November and December of 2019, the board considered parole for 200 eligible incarcerated individuals, yet only 17 parole requests were granted. For parole requests in FY2020, Alabama has a 78 percent denial rate. Critics of the department have highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the state’s overcrowded prison populations.

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections statistics, Alabama’s prisons are holding over 20,000 people in facilities that are designed to hold 12,400 people.

At Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, Ward signaled that there will be change under his watch. Speaking of the department’s past woes, he announced, “That’s not one person’s fault or any group’s fault, but we can do better. Opening communication with DOC and the Legislature can only help us in our mission going forward.”

During his tenure as a legislator, Ward was the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier this year, Ward ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.

Ward’s now-vacant Senate seat will be filled by primary election. Governor Ivey has set the election date for Tuesday, March 30, 2021. In the event that a runoff election is necessary, a primary runoff date is set for Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The special general election date will be Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Governor Ivey’s remarks included supportive words for Ward and a reminder about the importance of civic representation. “I appreciate Senator Ward agreeing to serve in his new capacity as director of the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, but it is just as critical to fill the open seat on behalf of the people in Senate District 14.”

Senate District 14 represents portions of Bibb, Chilton, Hale, Jefferson and Shelby counties.

The qualifying deadline for candidates seeking election registration with major political parties will be Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. The deadline for all independent or minor party candidates who want to register is Tuesday, March 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

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