State lawmaker requesting external review of parole policies, hold on new parole hearings

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A state lawmaker is asking the Department of Corrections to put new parole hearings on hold until an independent, outside review is done on parole policies. The Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Association has also called for an investigation into the state's parole system.

In a letter to the Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, State Rep. Frank Burns asks the department to put any new parole hearings on hold until an independent, outside review is done on parole policies, not an internal audit.

The letter comes after six Pennsylvanians on parole have been charges in violent crimes, including 56-year-old James Sterbinsky in Lancaster County and 33-year-old Calvin Purdie in Dauphin County, both picking up homicide charges while on parole.

"There's not problem with a good review to see what the protocol is," said Harrisburg-based attorney Corky Goldstein while reading the letter Rep. Burns sent to Wetzel. Goldstein believes a review of the parole policies is not a bad idea as long as a time limit is set on how long the process would take.

"I hope they put a definite time frame whether it's six months, or seven months, or eight months, whatever it's going to take so people who are entitled are not sitting there waiting until some date in the future," said Goldstein. "That's not fair and that's not the way we should run it."

Wetzel did not return out request for comment Tuesday on Rep. Burns' parole review request. However, Wetzel did issue this statement to us a few weeks ago when the PA Corrections Officers Association called for an investigation into the state's parole system.

We are reviewing the parolees' histories both while in state prison and while under parole supervision to determine if all procedures and processes were properly followed. We expect our review to indicate if any changes are necessary or if there were any missteps in this process.

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