Marion County Circuit Court judge's commonsense ruling on Friday provides a chance for a much-needed review of the state Parole Board's decision to grant early release to a convicted rapist who had only served about one-third of his 60-year sentence.
But this case may not only be an indicator of one Parole Board action. How many other serious offenders have been released well before what their original sentence called for?
We hope that the Parole Board takes seriously Judge Paul Lipscomb's critique of the board's process and its decision to release Richard Troy Gillmore. We also hope that the Parole Board understands that the most insulting action it could take right now would be to appeal Lipscomb's ruling and thereby reinforce its disregard for Gillmore's victims.
The flawed Parole Board process and decision involves one of Gilmore's victims - Tiffany Edens, a former Troutdale resident - who went public in November with her frustration about the Parole Board's decision to release Gillmore.
Edens and the Multnomah County district attorney then took the additional and highly unusual step of suing the Parole Board in circuit court. The lawsuits, which were combined into a single case for the purposes of Lipscomb's ruling, alleged 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 mostly supported those allegations in his Friday ruling. 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 Parole Board's reasoning. Lipscomb's written ruling clearly 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.
Gillmore's release had been set for next Friday. Lipscomb's decision will keep him in prison until the Parole Board holds a new parole hearing - one that fully complies with the requirements of Oregon law.
While the new hearing will allow Edens and others to mount a vigorous case in favor of keeping Gillmore in prison until he no longer is a danger to the community, we also hope the hearing can lead the Parole Board to demonstrate that it consistently utilizes a more supportable process for deciding the release of all prisoners.