Cam Ward vows balanced, pragmatic approach in new role as Pardons and Paroles director
Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the appointment of State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) to fill the vacancy left behind by the retired Charlie Graddick for the opening of director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Ward will assume the role on December 7 and take over an agency that has been in the spotlight because of controversies over the past few years.
In an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” the Shelby County Republican lawmaker acknowledged there were difficulties ahead but said he anticipates finding a way to rectify the agency’s problems with a “balanced approach.”
“You’re never going to win a popularity contest in this job, for sure, because you’ve had directors come and go,” he said. “The job itself is to manage the agency, which is about 740-745 employees. So it’s a very large state agency, incorporated in every single county in the state. The controversy has been how they determined who’s been paroled and who didn’t. We had a time when so many people were being paroled, and they got paroled and shouldn’t have been. And then we went to a time when paroles came to an end, and the criminal justice system started backing up. You’ve got to find a balanced approach that is pragmatic and, at the same time, based upon facts and data. And I think we need to get back to that.”
As far as what to expect under his leadership, Ward said he would abide by the laws passed by the Alabama Legislature and said public safety was the priority.
“The legislature makes the law, and we should enforce and do what the legislature has given us the charge to do,” Ward explained. “That’s the most important thing — follow the letter of the law. I do think philosophically — you know, public safety has to always come first. That should be our number one priority. But in order to achieve public safety, there’s a lot of reentry programs and rehabilitation efforts that can take place to make sure if someone is going to be out, that they’re getting the supervision and the treatment they need so they don’t commit a crime again. It’s a different philosophy. It’s easy for people also to knock Judge Graddick. But he came into a job — it was a very, very difficult situation. So, I think it is a little unfair to knock any one person for a problem that’s been building for years.”
Ward argued communication was an integral component to overcoming the bureau’s woes and vowed to work with Attorney General Steve Marshall and Alabama Department of Corrections head Jeff Dunn in the future.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.