Graterford Nixes Ex-parole Board Boss's Plans

Posted: July 06, 1995

Just one week after he was booted from his job as boss of the state parole board, Alan Castor is such an unwanted man he can't even get into prison.

Castor, who lost his job over the mess surrounding the prison release of accused cop-killer Robert "Mudman" Simon, had scheduled a press conference for this morning at Graterford Prison to explain his side of the fiasco.

But the session was canceled yesterday when the man in charge of state prisons said Castor couldn't use Graterford as his pulpit.

According to media alert from a local public relations agency hired by the deposed parole boss' supporters, Castor had intended to meet with reporters outside Graterford's main entrance. "Castor will comment on the state of the beleaguered parole system and will describe his tenure as chair," a news release stated.

Castor, who remains a member of the parole board, lost his job as chairman in a shake-up by Gov. Ridge following Simon's release from Graterford last February. Three months later, Simon was arrested in the killing of a New Jersey police officer.

Castor did not return phone calls yesterday for comment on the press conference.

Ben Livingood, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrrections, said Commissioner Martin Horn learned of the press conference yesterday after Livingood read about the plans in the Harrisburg Patriot.

Asked why Horn had canceled the press conference, Livingood said, "We have nothing to do with the cancelation . . . We can't tell Mr. Castor what he can and cannot do, but we can tell him where he can't do it. He's free to hold a press conference anywhere he wants, but not at Graterford.

" . . . We are a little bit sensitive about security at our facility."

Though Castor regularly attends parole hearings at Graterford, Livingood said, that does not provide him any special access to prison facilities.

'They're our rooms . . . It is our space," Livingood said. "We control the use of that space. That space is provided to them to conduct parole hearings for inmates at the institution. There is nothing in our allocation of that space that says it is to be used for a press con ference."

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