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The Louisiana Board of Parole Giveth and Taketh Away: The Troubling Case of Bobby Sneed

In yet another outrageous example of what constitutes “justice” in America, we have the story of 74-year-old Bobby Sneed. He has been imprisoned at one of this nation’s most perilous institutions for 47 years. Earlier this year, a 17-minute hearing before the Louisiana Board of Parole (“LBP”) resulted in the unanimous decision to grant Sneed parole. The LBP found that Sneed is no longer a danger to society—and yet Sneed may still die in prison.

Four days before Sneed’s scheduled release from Louisiana’s Angola prison, he collapsed. After being hospitalized, a urinalysis was conducted. The prison disciplinary committee (“committee”) issued an incident report alleging that Sneed had tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines. The committee conceded shortly thereafter that the incident report must be dismissed; there was no proof that the urine sample came from Sneed. “They didn’t have a complete chain of custody, so there ended up being no proof that the urine samples that tested positive for drugs actually was [sic] Bobby’s,” said Sneed’s attorney, Thomas Frampton. Sneed was then charged with trespassing by the committee. It was alleged that Sneed had been in the wrong dorm when he collapsed. A charge that was also dismissed.

In an email, Ken Pastorick wrote, “The Louisiana State Penitentiary Disciplinary Board dismissed both charges against Bobby Sneed this week.” Pastorick is the communications director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. Pastorick was replying to inquiries about the lack of justice in the LBP rescinding Sneed’s parole based on dismissed and unproven charges. Pastorick added that, “The parole of Sneed is a decision for the [LBP]....”

Defense of this disturbing and capricious decision was provided by Francis Abbott, who is the executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pardons & Committee on Parole. “We are able to rescind parole decisions when an offender has violated the terms of the decision granted by the [LBP] or has engaged in misconduct prior to the offender’s [release].” Abbott was then asked about what misconduct Sneed had engaged in. Abbott made a nebulous reference to some undisclosed documents in the possession of the LBP and not available to the public—or even Frampton as it turns out.

“It’s just pointless cruelty at this point,” says Frampton. He added, “The “[LBP]’s latest move just shows contempt for the law, public safety, common sense, and taxpayer money.”

The latest turn of events in Sneed’s life is simply insult on top of injury. Sneed is the only defendant still in prison and is undisputedly not one of the active participants in the unplanned killing which took place during a robbery. Sneed was standing guard almost two blocks away from the home of the person that was the target of the robbery. Sneed was then charged as a principal to commit second-degree murder and given a life sentence.

Sneed’s parole file notes that two co-defendants testified and served no time. One turned state’s evidence during Sneed’s second trial and was given a lesser sentence. Another was released on parole previously. Sneed’s situation should alarm any fair-minded person. This is not justice. It’s an abuse of discretion with real-world consequences. The LBP needs legislative guidance on being discerning and compassionate so that this never happens again. 



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