ATLANTA — Former Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy Ward took his oath of office Jan. 17 as a member of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Leaving behind his leadership over the embattled DOC, Ward now joins the five-member parole board tasked with deciding which parole eligible inmates will be released on parole.
“The Parole Board has an important role in Georgia’s criminal justice system," Ward said. "During my tenure as the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, the agency and the board worked closely together to serve Georgia communities and keep families safe. I pledge to make informed decisions when determining which eligible offenders are deserving of parole."
Parole board members are constitutional officers of the state and full-time employees authorized to grant paroles, pardons, commutations and reprieves. The board is the only entity in the state with the constitutional authority to commute a death sentence. Members are appointed by the governor to seven-year staggered terms and confirmed by the state Senate.
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Ward to the DOC role in 2019 after he began his career as a correctional officer at Scott State Prison in 1992. He rose to the chief of staff rank in 2016. Ward was the commissioner of the Georgia DOC prior to his appointment to the Board.
“Tim Ward brings more experience to this board and his decisions will enhance public safety,” Chairman Terry Barnard said.
Under Ward's leadership in the DOC, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a statewide civil investigation in September 2021 into conditions in Georgia’s state prisons.
The investigation, which is still underway, is examining whether Georgia's 35 Georgia DOC facilities provide prisoners reasonable protection from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners. The Justice Department is also investigating whether Georgia provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex prisoners reasonable protection from sexual abuse by other prisoners and by staff, the DOJ said in a statement.