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Parole board must follow law

A Marion County Circuit Court judge’s common-sense ruling Friday provides a chance for a much-needed review of the state parole board’s decision to release convicted rapist Richard Troy Gillmore. The board should take seriously Judge Paul Lipscomb’s harsh critique of its process and should not reinforce its disregard for Gillmore’s victims by appealing the ruling. The flawed process and decision leading to Gillmore’s pending early release came to light in November through a series of articles published in The Outlook and the Portland Tribune. That’s when one of Gillmore’s victims — Tiffany Edens — went public with her frustration about the parole board’s decision in October to release Gillmore, who had served only about a third of his 60-year sentence. In response, Edens and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk took the highly unusual step of suing the parole board in circuit court, alleging that the board had failed to provide Edens with proper notification of Gillmore’s parole hearing and that the board failed to issue a written, detailed rationale for its decision to release Gillmore. Lipscomb’s ruling supported most of those allegations. Unfortunately, the judge noted that he doesn’t have authority to correct the parole board’s decision — he could only send it back for further review. But the judge also enumerated multiple flaws in the board’s reasoning. Lipscomb’s written ruling demonstrates that the board had even less justification now for releasing Gillmore than it did in 2001, 2003 and 2005 — when it had refused to set Gillmore free. A psychological evaluation conducted in 2007 concluded that Gillmore posed a high risk for additional sexual violence and was “not amenable to community-based treatment or supervision.” After reviewing the documents, Lipscomb concluded that the parole board had dismissed the expert advice it was given, and that it instead was swayed by Gillmore’s promises that he would behave. The new hearing will allow Edens and others to mount a vigorous case in favor of keeping Gillmore in prison. We also hope the hearing can lead the parole board to a better and more supportable decision than the one it made in October.