Victims voice concern over paroles

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Victims of crime often have to relive that painful event in their lives, when their offenders come up for parole, but Tuesday those victims got a rare opportunity; they sat down face to face with the people who will ultimately make that decision, the Georgia Parole Board.

The families of the victims said they didn't want to miss out on this opportunity to have a chance to sit down with these board members, so when their loved-ones cases does come up, they will have a face to go along with the case their reviewing.

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More than 200 people showed up to speak to parole board members about their loved ones case. Janet Waters is just one of them.

“My son was murdered by a next door neighbor. He cashed a $2,000 check and they wanted it, so they tricked him, took him into the woods and shot him in the heart and knee and left him in the woods to die. Five people knew my son was in those woods and no one reported it,” said Waters.

Waters said one of the people responsible got life, plus ten years, but every few years she said she has to go through the parole process.

“This is seven years, his mother comes to my house trying to talk me into getting her son out and then this is almost another seven years, and then this is coming up, it's too much,” said Waters.

Ronda Graham also attended to try to keep an inmate from getting parole. She lost her mother in a 1998 shooting death at the hands of her mother's husband.

“He got life plus six years but for the last few years he's been coming up for parole and we were under the impression he wouldn't come up for parole, so it's kind of scary,” said Graham.

"We know that one on one contact is so valuable it helps the victims,” said State Board of Pardons and Parole spokesperson Steve Hayes.

Hayes said the conversation is just as valuable to board members.

“You can read a lot of information on a piece of paper but seeing that victim one on one, the board members they remember these cases,” said Hayes.

However, when asked if victims felt this meeting would help, some were skeptical.

“It seems like last couple of years they forgot we were there,” said Graham.