DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad terminated three members of the Iowa Board of Parole last week who were appointed by his predecessor, Gov. Chet Culver.
Branstad plans to replace them with his own appointees.
The three board members were Larry James, Steve Young and Barbara Western. Their departure leaves the five-member parole panel without the three-member quorum the board needs to grant paroles and work releases.
The board grants more than 200 paroles and 75 work releases per month, raising questions whether the dismissals will create a prison crowding problem.
Department of Corrections officials said the state’s prison system is slightly overcrowded but that the temporary delay in granting paroles and work releases should not exacerbate the situation.
Branstad told reporters at a Statehouse news conference this morning that the three members appointed by Culver had not been confirmed by the Iowa Senate and that he has withdrawn their appointments.
During Branstad’s previous tenure as governor, he oversaw the construction of three new state prisons as Iowa’s inmate population grew dramatically. He said he has no plans tobuild additional prisons. Prison construction projects are currently underway at Fort Madison and Mitchellville.
With the departure of the three parole board members, the panel’s remaining members are Chairwoman Elizabeth Robinson, who is on medical leave after undergoing knee replacement surgery last week, and Nancy Boyd. Both Robinson and Boyd are full-time parole board members. James, Young, and Western were all part-time board members.