By Sean Cruz
Governor Kulongoski appointed Vicki Walker to chair the Oregon Parole Board, drawing some criticism to both officials and to the board itself.
This appointment is good for the People of Oregon. The Governor has placed the right person, capable of making Oregon safer on both a case by case basis and as broad public policy, in the right place, where she can do exactly that.
It is Vicki Walker's personal qualities and family history that make this appointment extraordinary.
I worked in the Oregon Senate for six years (2003-2008) and witnessed Senator Walker speaking in committee and on the senate floor countless times, perhaps most passionately over the issues that people find most difficult to talk about, relating to sex crimes and child abuse, family and shame.
Like her or her voting record or not, this lady is brimming with courage and determination and she has many other qualities and key experience that make her eminently well qualified to chair the Parole Board.
Vicki has already announced what her standards will be in language that every person coming before the Board will be able to understand: Do not bring any disciplinary writeups if you want to get out early. The standard is high. Do not attempt to blow smoke at the Parole Board. She won't take any nonsense from anybody, understands the fine details and her case notes will be precise.
This credibility has enormous value, as nearly everyone incarcerated will eventually be coming out. Most inmates will understand that clarity and focus will be rewarded; placing the public at risk will keep you where you are.
Oregon is not gaining a bureaucrat with this appointment. We are putting in place a real person who can make a real difference in recidivism, making every community in the state a safer place for all.
Governor Kulongoski made the right move here.