GA Board of Pardons & Paroles, Chatham DA at odds over possibility of early release

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - One of the topics at Wednesday night's Savannah Downtown Business Association panel discussion was the issue of violent offenders being released too early.

But was the argument made an accurate portrayal of reality?

Keenan Ramon Green is the convicted criminal in question, sentenced to 35 years to serve for the attempted murder of a Savannah police officer about six years ago.

In Wednesday night's crime meeting, Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap said her office recently received notice from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles that he's being released.

Heap says she shared this with the community to shine a light on current state law that she and other law enforcement leaders are fighting to change.

"I think the community needs to know that we're not only finding the gangs here, and these juveniles who are involved in bad crime," said Heap. "We're fighting to keep the people in that we've already investigated, arrested, tried, the jury heard the case, the judge sentenced and sent them off."

But Pardons and Paroles is reaching out Thursday with a rebuttal, saying "District Attorney Meg Heap's statement last night is false. She did not receive notice that the offender is being released. Her comments are simply not true and unfortunate."

I shared that response with the DA's Office, and got this response:

We received notice that he was being considered for parole. We object to his parole. Past behavior by the board of pardons and parole has shown that they have released people from prison over our vehement objections. For example, Willie Doyle who received a life sentence for the sexual assault and murder of a 63-year-old woman in our community. We vehemently objected, they released him nonetheless.

As it stands, Green is up for consideration for parole in accordance with state law, which says anything adding up to 21 years, makes an offender parole eligible at seven years.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles says this is not the parole board establishing this date; it is established as a result of the sentence given by the court.

The District Attorney disagrees says that's not always the case.

"If the person has three prior felony convictions, I put those in. The court has to consider them. And then anything you're sentenced to will be without parole. But, if someone doesn't have three prior felonies, the judge cannot do that. The judge can sentence them up to a hundred years to serve, and it's the Board who determines how long they serve," Heap said.

Regarding Keenan Ramon Green's case, the man convicted of the attempted murder of a police officer, sentenced to 35 years to serve for the crime, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles had this to say:

An offender's parole eligibility date, as in Green's case, is established as a result of the sentence the offender receives according to statute. Parole does not establish parole eligibility. The Board is mandated by law to consider parole eligible offenders. Parole's guidelines recommendation in violent offenses to include this one would be for the offender to serve a minimum of 65% and up to 90% of the 35-year sentence prior to any parole, if paroled at all. The Board could deny parole. Certainly, the Board considers at attack against law enforcement the most serious of these cases.

Heap says her office has to pick which parole eligibility cases carefully, only going after the most violent offenders, because of a large amount of time, effort and resources a parole eligibility inquiry requires.

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