After word game incident, Greitens reacts to parole board member resignation
COLUMBIA - Gov. Eric Greitens reacted strongly to former Missouri Board of Probation and Parole member Donald Ruzicka stepping down from his position.
The Associated Press reported Friday that a parole board member, Ruzicka, and an unnamed employee played a game during parole hearings in which they earned points for incorporating song titles and unusual words, such as "manatee" and "hootenanny."
In a statement Monday, Greitens said, “The reports of Mr. Ruzicka’s actions were disturbing. Playing games at parole board hearings is unacceptable behavior. I’m grateful to Board Chairman Kenny Jones and Director Anne Precythe for their leadership. Our criminal justice system must keep people safe and protect the dignity of all Missourians.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the two would determine key words to say before conducting an interview, with each person getting a point for incorporating the word. If the offender repeated the word, they were given two points.
Ruzicka submitted his resignation Monday.
“The parole board plays an important role in the public safety of Missouri communities by having the authority to grant parole or conditional release to offenders incarcerated in Missouri prisons,” said Kenny Jones, chairman of the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole. “Members of the board must be held to a higher standard in order to do the work that is requested of them to ensure that all parties involved are equally heard during the hearing process before a final decision is made.”
Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Ruzicka to the parole board in December 2012. Prior to his appointment to the board, Ruzicka was a conservation agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation from 1979-2006 and served in the Missouri Legislature from 2007-2012 as a state representative.