Parole Board Secret Files
I am writing on behalf of my fellow inmates, men and women. After reading the article written by Ms. Terri Braun Wetzel of MWP published by Connections, I was prompted to share my experience regarding parole board concerns. Montana needs an independent advisory screening committee to oversee all BOPP actions. It is only then that they will be accountable to inmates and their families. I have had the same experience when requesting to review my parole file. Inmates should know and beware that the file at the prison is not the same file in front of the BOPP. In many cases like mine, letters of recommendations are missing, certificates of completions are missing or never added by prison personal, and secret written reports are added without the inmate’s knowledge. Years before my first parole was scheduled in 2007, I requested to review my parole file because I suspected certain staff who had antagonized me were telling administration that I was the ‘Black’s shot caller’ on the yard . I was told by a staff who respected me to check and make sure it did not surface into my BOPP file. That request was denied by Craig Thomas. MSP prison staff often submit reports to the BOPP ‘FYI’ without the inmate’s knowledge. These reports hurt our chances of being paroled. In many cases such as mine, decisions to deny parole is determined before an inmate is even taken before the Board. The date of the decision in my case was made 5 days before my hearing date.
Because the law grants me this privilege, I made another request to review my file after my parole was denied in March 2009. On April 30, 2009 I was called up to review my parole file and I was sick to discover a report submitted against me with my signature on it. It was created by my then unit managers who had practiced retaliation against me for refusing to be a tale bearer. They called me into their office one day asking me to sign a blank sheet of paper. I didn’t want to and wanted to know why but they insisted it was for some routine thing they needed. Reluctantly I complied only to learn they later created a report alleging ‘prior wrongs’ I was never charged with nor found guilty of. However, the BOPP used it against me anyway when I asked them to consider me for early release after their denial. Craig Thomas wrote back to say that wasn’t a factor and that the BOPP knew what a conviction was verses alleged charges. But when I asked the BOPP to send me copies of this ‘prior wrong’, the BOPP response was: ‘that report is noted in the P.S.I. part of the official record. This proved to me that the BOPP did in fact consider the ‘prior wrong’ in denying me parole, which was based on allegations which were false and never tried or proven in a court of law.
The file also included the pre-sentencing investigation documents and photos, but none of the many letters of recommendation from staff and others. Missing also were my many certificates of accomplishment from over the years. I also found a psychological evaluation that twisted my wording out of context, and an impact statement from my victim’s lawyer who had threatened me 10 years earlier. He had said that if I didn’t send him my insurance carrier’s information he would ask the BOPP to keep me until I discharge. If I complied with his request he said he would ask the BOPP to consider granting me parole. They flat out refused to produce a copy of the victim’s lawyer’s impact statement. They simply sighted per 46.23.110 for denying me this and other documents I had requested, saying they were not able to locate them.
After being given 30 minutes to view my file, I was rushed off. I requested copies of several documents in order to have someone review them. The BOPP sent me a few of those documents, but all the ones I had found disturbing and that would hurt my chances of getting a fair BOPP hearing, were denied me.
Another truth I discovered is that the prison had originally added a point to my reclassification evaluation that kept my custody level higher for several years. I explained it to a staff after discovering this in my parole file the BOPP had. That point was finally dropped last year in 2011.
In 2011 I again requested to see my parole file because of certain concerns occurring at MSP I had been documenting. This request was denied even though I explained that I needed certain documents in order to sue the BOPP for my release, which they denied me of in violation of their own rules. Three times they denied my request stating that I could view it when it got closer to my parole date. I have since placed a request for early consideration of a parole date since their denial of me was not valid. However, all my efforts have been rejected.
I urge all inmates, men and women, to find the MCA that compels the BOPP to allow all inmates to view their files long before they come up for parole. There is a form you can file at your local district court that forces the BOPP to grant your request, assuring you the right to review your file – you’ll be glad you did.
Needless to say, there is a complete lack of trust in matters concerning the BOPP since they seem to be a law unto themselves, a law that is antagonistic towards inmates. We have a responsibility to do our best to hold them accountable.
Clive Wellington Kinlock
50 Crossroads Dr.
Shelby, MT 50474