Memos, e-mails, and court records tell of internal discord at the U.S. Parole Commission involving an unauthorized entry, an old murder outside San Francisco, a commissioner’s resignation, and attempts to win funding to improve a rural highway in Missouri. Players include a former assistant to President George W. Bush, a past member of the Black Panthers, and a former Justice Department official who oversaw the politically tinged dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys, the Washington Post reports. The Parole Commission’s future has been in question since 1984, when Congress eliminated federal parole. The commission still has a multimillion-dollar budget and nearly 80 employees; it has survived attempts by lawmakers to eliminate it because it also handles inmates convicted in Washington, D.C., and because some convicts sent away under the old federal system still need to have their cases heard.
A former commissioner, ex-White House aide Deborah Spagnoli contacted then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who made an unprecedented intervention in one case. In another matter, someone surreptitiously entered the office of then-Commission Chairman Edward F. Reilly Jr. and apparently copied dozens of pages from his files. Spagnoli, a former prosecutor, charged that the commission was “letting very bad criminals back on the street without any review.” Reilly’s tenure as head of the commission is at an end. Last week, President Obama designated commission member Isaac Fulwood, a former Washington, D.C., police chief, as the new chairman.