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New parole policy on hold after judge’s ruling

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 12:57 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A change to a parole board policy is now on hold. A judge granted a temporary restraining order, preventing dozens of convicted murderers from receiving new parole hearings.

It comes after a recent change by the State Parole Board. Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined a lawsuit, questioning the legality of the parole board’s decision.

That policy change meant 45 people, the majority convicted murderers, would get new parole hearings, despite being ordered to serve out their sentences.

David Toney says he kept a picture of his father’s killer on a bulletin board, up until last November, when he was ordered to serve out his life sentence.

“We put the paper in a pot, we lit it on fire. And we were done with him. Now, potentially we may have to deal with him again,” Toney said.

His father, Tom Toney, was kidnapped and murdered in 1994.

His family is one of dozens who recently learned the people responsible for their loved one’s deaths would get a new shot at freedom.

“I’ve seen days where I’ve been in really, really dark places and I just couldn’t be around anybody. Until here recently I’ve really not been able to talk about it a whole lot without breaking down,” Toney said.

Previously, at someone’s first parole hearing, the board could issue a serve out order to people serving sentences of life or life without parole for 25 years. meaning they’d spend the rest of their life in prison. But in April they decided they couldn’t take that step until a person’s second hearing.

That meant dozens of convicted killers would get new parole hearings.

That led to two lawsuits, one from the commonwealth’s attorney in Pulaski County, and a second one from Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the commonwealth’s attorney for Laurel and Knox counties.

On Monday, a Knox County judge issued a temporary restraining order, barring those hearings from taking place, for the time being.

“And they finally feel as though they can close that chapter and start the healing process and then for a government agency to open it back up and rip those wounds open again, put them through this all over again, to stop that and be there for them again it’s a good feeling,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said.

If that restraining order hadn’t been issued, the first of those new hearings were set to take place starting next month.

Toney currently has a petition on change.org asking for this policy change to be reversed.

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