Republican Party Removing Parole

in march 2020 the VA parole board released 95 inmates, 35 of them were people convicted in killings

  • victims families said that they were not properly notified or given a chance to weigh in
  • Vincent Martin, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1979 killing of a Richmond cop
  • VA republican legislators (led by state senators Mark Obenshain of Rockingham and David Suetterlein of Roanoke) are pushing for new transparency requirements for the VA parole board
    • Senate bill 1103 and 1104
    • would make vote of each parole board member public
    • they want to see charges, amount of time served, reason for parole, with every parole granted
    • would only allow DOC to release a prisoner at least 21 days after being notified by the board of the decision to grant parole
https://www.startribune.com/explainer-whats-going-on-with-the-virginia-parole-board/600037653/?refresh=true
https://www.thecentersquare.com/virginia/parole-board-reform-heads-back-to-virginia-senate-with-amendments/article_8f2848fe-7161-11eb-a783-77753828522a.html

Parole Laws

-State

  • According to the VADOC website (pardon the term “offenders”): “Discretionary parole was abolished in Virginia for felonies committed in 1995 or after, requiring offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentences with the ability to earn good-time credits toward an early release date.”
  • However, some offenders are eligible for parole consideration if they meet one of the following criteria:
    • The crime was committed prior to January 1, 1995
    • The offender committed multiple misdemeanors prior to July 1, 2008
    • The offender was sentenced to indeterminate sentences under the Youthful Offender Act
  • The Virginia Parole Board (VPB) handles all parole decisions, policies, and rulings.”

Manditory vs descretionary parole

  • § 53.1-159. Mandatory release on parole
    “Every person who is sentenced and committed under the laws of the Commonwealth to the Department of Corrections or as provided for in §§ 19.2-308.1, 53.1-152 or § 53.1-153 shall be released on parole by the Virginia Parole Board six months prior to his date of final release. Each person so sentenced or committed, however, shall serve a minimum of three months of his sentence prior to such a release. Persons who are so released on parole shall be subject to a minimum of six months’ supervision and an additional period of parole ending on the date upon which the parolee would have served the maximum term of confinement, or any period the Board otherwise deems appropriate in accordance with § 53.1-156. Such persons shall also be subject, for the entire period of parole fixed by the Board, to such terms and conditions prescribed by the Board in accordance with § 53.1-157.”

-Federal

  • Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 ended parole for federal prisoners convicted after November 1, 1987
  • U.S. Parole Commission stills exists to oversee cases involving persons convicted before 1987, people convicted in or serving sentences in D.C., those convicted of military crimes, and international prisoners
  • There is still such a thing as “supervised release” and having time shaved off of your sentence for “good behavior”
  • Seems like the “tough on crime” assholes were mad that people weren’t serving the full lengths of their sentences so they did some fuck shit

*Who makes these laws/legislation?

*How are these decisions made?

Here is a pdf Policy Manual https://vpb.virginia.gov/files/1107/vpb-policy-manual.pdf

Procedure manual: https://vpb.virginia.gov/files/1108/vpb-procedure-manual.pdf


How Parole Functions in VA

-Look into VACORIS (The Virginia specific database for collecting/documenting parolees’ cases–the parent app or whatever is CORIS)

-Fishback: All inmates between 1995 and 2000 are now considered “Fishbackinmates

https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1441&context=wlucdj

-Geriatric parole

  • Virginia Code Section 53.1-40.01 also makes the Parole Board responsible to act on geriatric requests for conditional release.
    Notwithstanding the provisions of Virginia Code Section 53.1-40.01, the Parole Board shall annually consider for conditional release those inmates who meet the criteria for conditional geriatric release set out in Virginia Code Section 53.1-40.01.  If any such inmate is also eligible for discretionary parole under the provisions of Virginia Code Section 53.1-151 et seq., the board shall not be required to consider that inmate for conditional geriatric release unless the inmate petitions the board for conditional geriatric release.
    Following the Board’s decision to grant an inmate parole, the inmate must agree to abide by specific conditions in return for the opportunity to serve the remainder of his or her sentence under supervision in the community. This creates a contractual agreement between the Parole Board and the inmate.
    Parole supervision is carried out for the Virginia Parole Board by the probation and parole officers of the Virginia Department of Corrections.

-laws change but parole not impacted?

-Who is on the parole boards? How do you get on this board?

  • The Virginia Parole Board was established by law in 1942. It is composed of up to five members appointed by the Governor to serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
  • Lbers are listed above

-How do they decide on parole?

  • Parole Process
  • The Virginia Parole Board reviews all eligible inmates. An individual is eligible for parole if he or she falls into one of the following categories:
    • The individual committed the crime prior to January 1, 1995.
    • The individual was sentenced by a jury prior to June 9, 2000, for any felony offense committed on or after January 1, 1995, and remained incarcerated for such offense on July 1, 2020, other than (i) a Class 1 felony or (ii) any of the following felony offenses where the victim was a minor: (a) rape in violation of §18.61; (b) forcible sodomy in violation of §18.2-67.1; (c) object sexual penetration in violation of §18.2-67.2; (d) aggravated sexual battery in violation of 18.2-67.3; (e) an attempt to commit a violation of clause (a), (b), (c), or (d); or (f) carnal knowledge in violation of §18.2-63, 18.2-64.1, or 18.2-64.2.
      • The individual was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment for a single felony or multiple felonies committed while the individual was a juvenile and the individual has served at least 20 years of such sentence.
    • The individual has active sentences that total more than 20 years for a single felony or multiple felonies committed while the individual was a juvenile and the individual has served at least 20 years of such sentences.
    • The individual has multiple misdemeanors committed prior to July 1, 2008.
    • The individual was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence under the Youthful Offender Act.
  • Virginia Code 53.1-155 requires the Board to endeavor diligently to contact the victim prior to making any decision to release any inmate on discretionary parole.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) this week signed a measure that will make anyone convicted of an offense committed before the age of 18 eligible for parole after 20 years in prison. (VA the 23rd state to enact such law)
  • Discretionary parole was abolished in Virginia for felonies committed in 1995 or after, requiring offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentences with the ability to earn good-time credits toward an early release date.

4. VA’s 3 strike laws impact Parole

§ 19.2-297.1. Sentence of person twice previously convicted of certain violent felonies.

A. Any person convicted of two or more separate acts of violence when such offenses were not part of a common act, transaction or scheme, and who has been at liberty as defined in § 53.1-151 between each conviction, shall, upon conviction of a third or subsequent act of violence, be sentenced to life imprisonment and shall not have all or any portion of the sentence suspended, provided it is admitted, or found by the jury or judge before whom he is tried, that he has been previously convicted of two or more such acts of violence. For the purposes of this section, “act of violence” means (i) any one of the following violations of Chapter 4 (§ 18.2-30 et seq.) of Title 18.2:

a. First and second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter under Article 1 (§ 18.2-30 et seq.);

b. Mob-related felonies under Article 2 (§ 18.2-38 et seq.);

c. Any kidnapping or abduction felony under Article 3 (§ 18.2-47 et seq.);

d. Any malicious felonious assault or malicious bodily wounding under Article 4 (§ 18.2-51 et seq.);

e. Robbery under § 18.2-58 and carjacking under § 18.2-58.1;

f. Except as otherwise provided in § 18.2-67.5:2 or § 18.2-67.5:3, criminal sexual assault punishable as a felony under Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.); or

g. Arson in violation of § 18.2-77 when the structure burned was occupied or a Class 3 felony violation of § 18.2-79.

https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/19.2-297.1/
  • 1982 three strikes law vs 1990’s three strikes law (unclear if the 1990s one is just amendment to the original 1982 law)
    • around the time that VA abolished parole (1995) the three strikes law was changed to one that stated that the three convictions had to consist of three separate instances of incarceration with time of “liberty” between.
    • in the past according to the 1982 law folks were being locked up on first time convictions that resulted in life in prison because of multiple charges, these people are still incarcerated and ineligible for parole (unless the parole board over rides the DOC’s decision)
  • in 1993 an amendment to the law gave the parole board the ability to over turn the Department of Correction’s “three strike” decisions for people. (this relates to some of the above situations in regards to changes in laws and access to parole.)
    https://www.pilotonline.com/government/virginia/article_557a97de-19d8-5f9f-8722-d678955ff0e7.html
  • one current definition of the Virginia three strikes law given by a lawyer on a forum is: “A person convicted of a third violent felony (including murder, mob-related felonies, kidnapping, malicious wounding, robbery, some kinds of arson, and most felony sexual assaults), who has been released from prison or jail between convictions, will be sentenced to life without parole.”
  • the legal grounds for fight a three strikes case is a constitutional law case based on the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment

there is something that i haven’t really be able to figure out and that is how convictions that do not usually fall into the above categories can result in a three strikes designation. or if that is just something that happened in the past… not totally sure yet. also there is something that kept being referred to as “wobbler offences” meaning they are on the line between felony and misdemeanors.. this is more applicable to sentencing to parole but its all connected….

Parole Review/Appeals Process

Virginia Parole Board makes monthly decisions as required by Virginia Code 53.1-136.