[Ppnews] Veronza Bowers - Court rules Panelist secretly blocked convict's parole

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 2 11:45:36 EDT 2011

Court: Panelist secretly blocked convict's parole

By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press
Posted: 09/02/2011 08:32:36 AM PDT
Updated: 09/02/2011 08:34:17 AM PDT

ATLANTA­A former Black Panther convicted of 
murdering a California park ranger is getting 
another shot at freedom after a federal appeals 
court found that a parole official improperly 
worked to keep him behind bars by secretly 
handing over information to Justice Department officials.

The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals 
decision last week found that then-U.S. Parole 
Commissioner Deborah Spagnoli "impermissibly 
tainted" the board's decision to delay Veronza 
Bowers' release when she wrote a memo to 
government attorneys about the case. Her actions, 
the three-judge panel said, violated the 
commission's mandate as an independent arbiter.

Spagnoli, who resigned from the commission in 
2007, said Thursday she was unaware of the ruling 
and refused to discuss the case.

The panel's decision stopped short of releasing 
Bowers, who was convicted of the 1973 killing of 
Kenneth Patrick at Point Reyes National Seashore 
in California. But the court ordered a new 
hearing to determine if Bowers could be released, 
noting that corrections officials have called him a "model prisoner."

Bowers was sentenced to life in prison in April 
1974 and at the time was eligible for parole 
after 30 years. The U.S. Parole Commission held a 
hearing on his case in December 2004, when an 
examiner found that Bowers was not likely to 
commit future crimes and had "been an outstanding 
inmate" for the previous 15 years. The panel 
decided to grant him mandatory parole in February

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