Parole board chairman to retire this week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee Parole Board Chairman Charles Traughber is retiring this week after working with offenders for more than 40 years.

In 1969, Traughber became a prison counselor at the then-Tennessee State Penitentiary, which closed in 1992 after the opening of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

He worked his way up to director of counselors before becoming a charter member of the full-time parole board that was established in 1972, then eventually the board's chairman, the title he has held the past 30 years.

Traughber has overseen countless hearings, including the only parole hearing of probably one of Tennessee's most notorious offenders -- James Earl Ray, who pleaded guilty in 1969 to killing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Traughber said Ray's parole was denied because of the "seriousness of the offense."

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