How Exonerated Former Inmate Hears Cases On Connecticut’s Parole Board


Kenneth Ireland, who was exonerated of a rape and murder after serving 21 years in a Connecticut prison, now sits on the state’s parole board. “I've been on the inside, and I understand the programs, the issues confronting the inmates,” he tells the New York Times. Ireland is serving provisionally, along with four other nominees, until state legislators vote on the appointments next year. Timothy Fisher, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, got to know Ireland through work he does on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. Fisher championed the idea of adding Ireland to the board in a letter to Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor.

“He has a very clear eyed understanding of the people in prison,” Fisher said. “How so many of them say 'I didn't do it,' and yet he's no fool. He's been around them and he knows there's injustice, but he also knows that there are people who will try to pull a fast one. I think he will be a more discerning judge of character on this board than almost anyone.” At a recent hearing, Ireland joinied Robert Murphy, a retired FBI agent who was the panel's second member. “What was going on in your life that made you relapse?” Ireland pressed John Rivera, a 35-year-old Hartford man who had been dragged back into the system as a result of a failed drug test. “Help me understand.”

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