On June 23, 2014, my life changed forever. My husband, Mike, was killed by a selfish, sick individual with a blood alcohol level of .37 (four times the legal limit). In 2016, the attacker was tried and convicted of homicide while driving a motor vehicle by intoxication, felony reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and breach of duty of care. , all on bail for some of the same offenses for four days. before. Mike is gone forever, in such a violent way, with no second chance, voice and few rights.
The inmate’s first parole hearing should have taken place in 2020. Parole hearings give inmates hope and a second chance, but also create a great deal of anxiety, apprehension and bitterness and reopen raw wounds that never have a chance to heal for a victim’s family.
In 2017, less than 15 months after his 2016 conviction, the inmate was granted his first parole hearing as he had 1,055 days of sentence reduction credits. Nearly 900 have been pretrial/sentenced. In my opinion, the credits should not accrue before sentencing begins. What I would give to have almost two and a half more years with Mike.
In August 2017 and 2019 and again in August 2021, my family went through parole hearings due to the inmate’s poor choices that resulted in the heinous crime that claimed Mike’s life. All the emotions associated with this tragedy are experienced daily, sometimes hourly, such as grief, anger, sadness and resentment.
My latest experience brings me to the last parole hearing, in August 2021. According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections Policy and Procedures Index, all inmates being considered for parole should undergo drug testing at the 30 days prior to their parole hearing.
As of August 5, 2021, two reports indicate the inmate refused a random test in August 2019. Another report indicates he refused/attempted to modify a drug test on August 27, 2019. TDOC Policies and Procedures state that inmates who refuse to provide a sample, attempt to tamper with or alter a drug screen will be charged as per policy and the inmate will be charged a $25 fee, visiting privileges will be suspended and Detainees will be required to undergo mandatory monthly drug tests for three consecutive periods. month.
Clearly, these procedures had not been followed in this case, given that the inmate had not been randomly tested or pre-release tested in over two years. If this happens to me, how many other incidents occur that affect other victims?
What should have been a parole hearing on August 8, 2021, turned into a “Why hasn’t TDOC tested the inmate for over two years?” and an inmate question-and-answer session.
The Hearing Officer granted an “extension” of six months. So, in February, we will endure this again.
I don’t want to point a finger at any particular department or person. I’m trying to say the process isn’t working. We miss him and some parts are just broken. How can the Tennessee parole board make and make decisions to reintegrate these criminals into society when too much is slipping through the cracks? These things are important and ultimately affect the outcome of parole hearings, which affects the rest of my life, your life, and the lives of everyone in Tennesse.
Parole is a privilege, not a right.
President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that whenever a law is broken, society is at fault rather than the offender. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is responsible for his or her own actions.
I’m not saying I’m against reform, but slapping the fingers and rewarding criminals with credits doesn’t hold them accountable. Who will reward them with these credits upon release? The sentence must fit the crime and they must be held accountable by serving their full sentence.
It would bring truth, justice and some peace to the victims and their families. Why continue to subject victims and their families to the agony of these hearings? There are so many misinterpretations about our justice system. It has become complicated to translate and leans more in favor of the criminal than the law-abiding citizen. Why can’t our state be the leader when it comes to determining the truth of sentences and the rights of victims?
Never in my worst nightmare did I think I would be here, seeing the world through the eyes of a victim and speaking out for those who no longer have a voice.
I don’t have enough words, paper or time to tell you the impact these hearings have had on me and my family. They affect every aspect of your being mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. They can even divide families. I want to be part of the fix. I hope I did this with dignity, within the law, and in service to the State of Tennessee.
Debbie Locke is the widow of the former state representative. Mike Locke, who was killed in 2014 when he was hit by a drunk driver on Fort Henry Drive in Colonial Heights.