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Every month for the last 12 years I have attended the (usually) 2-day business meeting of the BPH board—the Executive Board Meeting. That’s 144 board meetings, and while CoVid required a couple of years of those meetings to be held virtually, I have not missed those, either. In fact, if I’m late to arrive, the parole agents who act as security at the board start to worry where I am—I don’t think they believe they can start the meeting without me!

So, I’ve seen a massive amount of en banc hearings, where (usually) grants are reconsidered, and a majority of the sitting commissioners decides if the decision made at the hearing should stand, or that the concerns expressed that brought the decision back for more consideration have some merit and perhaps the grant should be upturned, either by vacating the decision or sending the decision to a reconsideration hearing. Either way, en banc is really the only time lifers’ families can appear in person to support their LO. And because everyone can now ‘attend’ by video, more and more family members speaking at these ‘hearings.’

I could do a book about en banc hearings and how to participate—and maybe I will. But for now, with memoires of last month’s hearings still fresh and ahead of this month’s event—please consider this:

If you’re participating in en bancs by video, remember you are ALWAYS on camera, unless YOU turn it off and even if you’ve muted your mic….mind your actions, because the rest of us can see everything you do and others in the background do. And it can sometimes get very embarrassing.

Apologies beforehand, and not to paint too gross a picture, but we’ve seen folks cleaning nose, ears, fingernails, teeth and scratching various body parts, all on camera. Ewww. Pretty sure they don’t realize we’re all unwilling voyeurs, and would be mortified if they did, but the unfortunate images remain.

People in the background often perform similar rituals, munch on all sorts of edibles, shelp about in various modes of (often un)dress, and display all variety of facial and hand expressions. And all is caught on camera and displayed to all those participating in the meeting, both those on video and now, those of us in person at the meeting, as it’s allllll shown on a large screen in the meeting room, in real time.

So while the board reminds everyone participating by video to remember to mute your mic when not speaking, it seems to fall to us to remind everyone to mind their behavior or turn their camera off as well. You’re trying to create a positive picture of your LO up for parole and the support network they will be coming home to.

You need to put your best foot, face, and attitude forward. Let’s be clear, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between unfortunate, distasteful and embarrassing images and negative outcomes of the en banc hearings, but for everyone’s peace of mind and dignity, please mind your P’s and Q’s. Or turn your camera off.

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