JEFFERSON CITY — Nearly 18,000 convicted criminals are on parole in Missouri. Yet the public knows little about exactly why they were released. That's because parole board hearings, votes and records all are closed to the public.
The secrecy of the state Board of Probation and Parole was highlighted this year when Gov. Jay Nixon granted clemency to a man just days before he was to be executed for a murder conviction. The board didn't release any information it provided the governor. It didn't even say whether its clemency recommendation was a "yes" or "no."
The parole board stands as a stark exception to Missouri's Sunshine Law, which declares that meetings, records and votes of governmental entities generally shall be open to the public.