After denying parole for convicted killer Dameon Wesley three times, the Ohio Parole Board decided in 2012 that the Dayton man was ready for release after 18 years behind bars.
Five months after he walked out as a free man, Wesley shot and killed his ex-girlfriend’s 13-year-old daughter, Briona Rodgers, and shot Rodgers’ cousin, Altona Culpepper, in the head. Wesley, 39, died of a heart attack in Montgomery County Jail.
» RELATED: Accused killer apologizes to family
Michael H. Jackson, who served on the Ohio Parole Board when Wesley was released, called it horrific and a scenario parole board members worry about with every decision.
“When I was with the parole board, I would look at the news and be like ‘Oh, God, is this guy on (parole) supervision?’ Any crime that I’d see on the news, I’d run to my computer and pull him up and see if he’s on supervision. You’re always tormented by that and then you go back and comb through a decision that you made… ‘Did I miss something?’,” said Jackson, who served on the board 2012 to March 2018. “It is a tremendous task and it weighs heavily.”
There is no crystal ball for the parole board to see who will re-enter society successfully and who will return to crime.
Tyra Patterson, formerly of Dayton, was denied parole multiple times before she was released in December 2017. After 23 years behind bars, she is now working at the Ohio Policy & Justice Center as a paralegal and speaking at schools around the country, telling student to stay in school and off drugs.
» RELATED: Dameon Wesley timeline
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith said the Ohio Parole Board members are doing their best to discern who is rehabilitated and ready for release and who is still a danger.
“They truly believe they’re doing a service and that’s what keeps them doing it when everyone is mad at them,” she told lawmakers recently. “Because at any given moment you have the victims, prosecutors, defense, the inmates and their families and everyone all second guessing every decision. But the fact of the matter is they’re following the law and they’re really doing the best that they can in making a decision that keeps us safe.”
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