Former Sen. Jane Orie to be paroled early next year
Former state Sen. Jane Orie tutored inmates and updated a guide to help them readjust to society when they're released.
Orie, 52, of McCandless didn't have to help others during her 17 months in prison, and legal experts said she likely was going to be paroled after serving her minimum sentence, regardless of how she spent her time.
“The number one thing the board probably looked at was whether she was going to go out there and do it again,” Glenn D. Walters, a criminal justice professor at Kutztown University in Berks County, said on Monday. “It's not unusual that she was going to be paroled at her earliest release date as long as she was staying out of trouble and not getting any bad disciplinary reports.”
Orie, the former Senate majority whip convicted of using her legislative staff to perform campaign work and later trying to cover up her scheme, was sentenced in June 2012 to serve 2½ to 10 years in prison. The state parole board last week granted her parole, effective as early as Feb. 9.
Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, couldn't be reached. The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted Orie, declined comment.
During her stay at the women's state prison in Cambridge Springs in Crawford County, Orie assisted Department of Corrections staff by tutoring fellow inmates getting their GED and updated and compiled a guide to help them successfully integrate back into society.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Bensinger said the guide includes information about job hunting, help identifying support groups and information about government and nonprofit agencies.
“She could have stayed in her cell and simply done her time. Instead, she really gave back to the inmates who were around her,” Bensinger said.
Orie's sister, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, declined to comment on Monday but last week released a statement saying in part, “Jane is a strong woman of faith. She has always maintained that it is an honor and privilege to serve those in need.”
Parole boards typically look at a number of criteria when determining whether to release inmates, including the severity of their crime, the chances of them committing the crime again and whether they pose a public safety risk, said University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris.
“In addition, they'll want to know how the person behaved inside. If they're doing things like Jane did, where she seemed to use the time in a positive way, that does help,” Harris said.
The board cited a positive recommendation from the Department of Corrections, Orie's development of a parole release plan, “positive institutional behavior” and demonstration of a “motivation for success.”
Orie became eligible for release based on a program that can reduce sentences for inmates with no history of violent behavior. She'll be on parole through 2022. She could go back to prison to serve the remainder of her sentence if she violates parole.
A jury in May convicted Melvin, 57, of Marshall of using her Superior Court staff and resources to campaign for a seat on the state's highest court in 2003 and 2009. A judge this month suspended her sentence of house arrest after the Superior Court ruled that she did not have to write letters of apology to every judge in Pennsylvania on black-and-white photos of herself posing in handcuffs.
A jury convicted Janine Orie, 59, of McCandless of helping her sisters commit their crimes. Her attorney withdrew a request to have her sentence stayed.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New interim director to take over VA regional office in Pittsburgh
- Broken water main creates sinkhole that swallows truck in Overbrook
- Pittsburgh Police looking for dark blue BMW that hit cyclist in East Liberty
- Pittsburgh airport improvements noted as CEO tries to expand activity
- 1 injured in backhoe accident in Polish Hill
- Developers share their vision for Garden Theater block on North Side
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s banding program a labor of love for avian expert
- Volunteer tutors boost adult literacy in Allegheny County
- National Night Out ‘a start’ for violence-prone Homewood
- Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.