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Former State Parole Board Member Resigns Out of 'Sheer Frustration'

photo of prison cell
A former state senator has concerns about how the parole board operates.

A former state senator has left the Ohio Parole Board, saying there are serious problems with how the prison system is operated.

Democratic former Sen. Shirley Smith of Cleveland spent three years on the parole board, but left last month out of what she calls “sheer frustration”.

“They operate without any integrity. They don’t seem to care about humanity. And they don’t operate with any decency.”

Smith says board members can miss hearings and still vote on cases, that they too often fall on the side of prosecutors and victims, and that the board and staff aren’t diverse. She says she’s talked to lawmakers who are considering changes they can make.

A prisons spokesperson hasn’t responded to all these claims, but has said that Gov. Mike DeWine’s nominee to head the agency will be looking to add members to create an inclusive and diverse parole board.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.