Victims should have a voice at parole hearing
- Gresham Outlook - Opinion
The fact that it was just two years ago that Richard Troy Gillmore, now 52, was denied parole, only to revisit this issue 24 months later, begs the question: Just how much torment do his victims have to endure?
In Oregon's prison system, once an inmate is eligible for parole, that person can request a hearing every two years before the State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.
Those people have the authority to grant an inmate's conditional release from prison. Part of that process gives victims the opportunity to provide oral testimony - for or against - at the inmate's parole hearing.
Because Gillmore is making a habit of asking for parole every chance he gets, his victims are placed in an agonizing position of revisiting the horrors of his attacks every two years.
Given the unlikely rehabilitation of sex offenders and the nature of their crimes, it would make more sense that the time-span between parole hearings would be longer than two years - perhaps five or more years.
Such a move would grant victims a longer reprieve and would give sex offenders more time to ponder their crimes, perhaps even giving them added motivation to truly reform. But that's likely just wishful thinking.
Even more specific to Gillmore's request for parole, The Outlook has learned that two women who were raped by Gillmore won't be allowed to give oral testimony during his hearing.
That's because Gillmore was tried on another rape. And by the state's own definition, these two women don't meet the definition of 'victim.'
The record in this case will show that while Gillmore was not tried for the rapes of these two women, he did confess to these rapes after the statute of limitations had passed.
These women certainly have paid a higher price than the average person, who is allowed to submit written testimony. But, sadly, that's how the parole board treats these victims: as if they were just any other random person.
But the power of the oral testimony of these women is needed at the hearing in order to strongly convey the pain and suffering caused by this serial rapist.
If these women are allowed to submit written testimony - as can anyone - then it seems to be a very small step to allowing their oral testimony.
Rep. Matt Wand's support of these victims is laudable, although perhaps too late to do any good. The deadline for signing up to speak at the hearing was Thursday, June 7.
Wand, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, certainly is in a good position to work for legislative change on the parole hearings.
In the short term, however, we strongly encourage the parole board to recognize that the testimony of Gillmore's victims should not be relegated to the same status as anyone else.
Their testimony should be heard - loud and clear.