<< Back to press releases
James E. Donald
Albert R. Murray
Vice Chair
L. Gale Buckner
Robert E. Keller
Terry E. Barnard
News Release
For Immediate Release   Contact: Steve Hayes, Director
Public Affairs Office
Phone: (404) 657-9450
FAX: (404) 651-8502

State Board of Pardons and Paroles Re-Elects James E. Donald as Chair

Vice Chair Albert Murray Re-Elected to Second Term at May Board Meeting
May 3, 2011;

Atlanta, GA - The members of the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles re-elected James E. Donald to serve as Chair for FY 2012. Donald was appointed to the Board in January 2009, by former Governor Sonny Perdue. He was first elected Chair by the Parole Board in June 2010.

Chairman Donald serves as one of five Parole Board Members who determine which prison inmates are ready to be transitioned back into the community. 

As Chairman, Donald’s leadership has resulted in renewed collaboration with local, state and federal law enforcement to improve public safety with an increased emphasis being placed on partnerships that result in parolees’ success with a long-term goal of a permanent and sustainable reduction in the state’s recidivism rate.

Previous to service on the Parole Board, Chairman Donald led the nation’s fifth largest prison system as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections for six years. With an annual budget of more than $1.2 billion, as Commissioner, Donald was responsible for some 200,000 felons in prison or on probation, and a workforce of 15,000 employees, including 10,000 sworn peace officers. As prison’s chief, his management decisions saved taxpayers millions of dollars, and his commitment to offender re-entry resulted in six new 200-bed Pre-Release Centers and eight in-house Transition Centers. As with the prison system, as a member of the Parole Board, Chairman Donald is committed to adding Faith-Based initiatives that improve offenders’ opportunities for success in the community.

“Georgia has a tough Parole Board. Our workforce is consistently working to meet our core mission of public safety. Those offenders who are granted parole after the Board makes an informed decision, are supervised effectively while they are given an opportunity to stay in their communities as productive citizens,” stated Donald. He added, “I am humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve the community, with my fellow Board Members and our dedicated parole staff.

Chairman Donald received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Missouri. He is a retired Major General in the United States Army. Among his many military accomplishments, he earned the Bronze Star as a Task Force Commander with the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" during Gulf War I.

Board Members also re-elected Vice Chairman Albert R. Murray. 

Vice Chairman Murray was appointed to the Board in May 2010 after leading Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice and ending his tenure as the longest serving juvenile justice commissioner in the State’s history. As commissioner, Murray brought stability to the State’s juvenile facilities and expanded training opportunities for staff. He maintained an accredited school system and most significantly, led the department out from under eleven years of federal oversight by bringing to closure the agency’s memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on May 5, 2009. 

Vice Chairman Murray began his criminal justice career in Tennessee serving sixteen years and was promoted to assistant commissioner of the Department of Children Services and the Department of Youth Development. His stellar career in Tennessee resulted in his appointment as the first commissioner of the newly created Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority where he served for six years.

Vice Chairman Murray has a master’s degree in Education from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Tennessee State University. 

Parole Board Members are full-time employees of the agency, appointed by the governor to seven-year, staggered terms. Board Members are constitutional officers with the sole discretion to vote on the release of Georgia prison inmates and have Georgia’s only statutory authority to commute a death sentence.  

Media may arrange an interview with Chairman Donald and Vice Chairman Murray or request photos by contacting Steve Hayes at (404) 657-9450.