by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 29, 2023) — As The Post & Email reported Sunday, on Tuesday a parole hearing was held for Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) inmate Kristina Cole, a Memphis mother of three who has been incarcerated since late 2017 after she was convicted of two charges associated with distributing drugs in a “drug free zone.”

Cole has denied the charges which were brought after she retrieved a package from her porch on February 3, 2016 which reportedly contained methamphetamine.

After conviction in October 2017, along with co-defendant and Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White, who also maintains his innocence, Cole was sentenced to 13.5 years in prison, with the additional half-year stemming from an “enhancement” for allegedly planning to sell the drug within 500 feet of a school. Since her incarceration, Cole has filed a post-conviction petition, successfully appealed a negative ruling, filed direct appeals and ultimately, applied for executive clemency.

On December 22, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee granted Cole expedited parole based on a 2020 change in the law which had mandated enhanced sentencing for distribution of certain drugs in proximity to a school. However, the final decision, he wrote in his declaration, would rest with the Board of Parole.

On Wednesday The Post & Email inquired of Tennessee BOP media representative Dustin Krugel the outcome of Cole’s hearing, to which he responded:

A final decision has yet to be reached on this case.

Following this yesterday’s initial parole hearing for Kristina Cole (#00581144), the hearing officer’s non-binding recommendation was to grant parole with the following post-release conditions, including forensic social worker referral to assist with any transitional needs and community service work until employed.

Board members will now review this parole case independently and then cast their votes. For this particular case, there needs to be three concurring votes for a final decision to be reached. A decision by the Board of Parole is expected to be reached within a couple of weeks.

When an inmate is to receive a parole hearing, the public may participate by sending letters of recommendation or objection, the BOP’s website states. The Post & Email has been told by a reliable source close to the case that two letters of recommendation were submitted on Cole’s behalf, although we have not been able to confirm it independently.

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