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Rapists case now more bewildering

The mystery behind the Oregon Parole's Board's decision to free convicted rapist Richard T. Gillmore only grows deeper as Gillmore's Jan. 18 release date draws closer.

Gillmore, 48, who was known as the Jogging Rapist when he was sent to jail in 1987, was sentenced to 60 years in prison. But the Parole Board decided last fall to let Gillmore out of jail even though he had served only about one-third of that time.

When parole board members made their ruling, the only real explanation they offered was that they believed Gillmore could be managed well in the community and that it was no longer necessary to keep him in prison.

Such an assertion would seem to be based on the existence of a plan to manage Gillmore once he is released from jail, but as we have learned in the past week, no such plan actually exists.

The Parole Board's conduct in this case is receiving extra scrutiny due to unusual lawsuits filed by the Multnomah County district attorney's office and by a former Troutdale resident who was raped by Gillmore in 1986. Those lawsuits claim that the victim, Tiffany Edens, didn't receive proper notice of the possibility of Gillmore's release and that the Parole Board had failed to provide a detailed, written rationale for its decision.

It was the latter claim that gained the most traction during questioning by Marion County Circuit Court Judge Paul Lipscomb last week. Lipscomb zeroed in on the Parole Board's statement that it believes Gillmore is treatable in the community. The judge noted that there was no written documentation to support that conclusion.

The Parole Board's response has been to say that the plan for managing a parolee typically is devised only after a decision is made to release a prisoner. We are not comforted by the thought that the board voted to release Gillmore without a concrete management plan already in place. And we are not impressed with the plan that Gillmore himself put forward, which included the idea of going to work for a company owned by a convicted murderer.

Lipscomb will issue a ruling later this week. But regardless of the outcome, these lawsuits have helped to shine a brighter light on potential pitfalls in the parole process. The public ought to be highly concerned that the Parole Board would release a dangerous prisoner - someone that the board itself describes as a hazard to the community - without any clear idea of how that person will be managed.