Clearing up the number of incarcerated individuals being released from prison this summer

Miyares said 15,000 incarcerated individuals could have an early release but the Department of Corrections says otherwise

We're following up on Virginia AG Jason Miyares speaking on violent offenders in the streets if they are released from prison this summer.

We are following up on Attorney General Jason Miyares speaking about violent offenders on the streets if they are released from prison this summer. People who have loved ones who are serving time say that’s not the case.

The Department of Corrections says it will release 4,500 people gradually from July to September because of the “Earned Sentence Credit Bill.” It allows those who served to get credit.

On average, the DOC says about 12,000 people are released because they have served their time yearly.

However, if legislators change a bill in the special session that could reduce the 4,500 from being released. That would impact families looking to see their loved ones come home.

“You’re probably looking at, by the end of the year, 15,000 with early release,” Miyares said.

That comment from Miyares upset people with loved ones in prison like Chari Baker.

“I think that number is a bit doctored up,” Baker said.

Baker said her husband, Carl is serving time, 26 years for purse snatching.

“There are people who have been incarcerated that have been over sentenced, we are not saying that everyone is innocent that is not the standpoint, the standpoint is some of the sentencing has not been justified with the crime,” Baker said.

Baker said what’s concerning is that HB 5148: Earned Sentence Credit that was passed in 2020 may get amended in some form in the upcoming special session.

The bill allowed those who served time to have a chance at being released earlier.

“They have made their own self check of self-betterment, you can see these are people who have been on good behavior it’s very hard to obtain good behavior,” Baker said.

Brad Haywood is the Executive Director of Justice Forward Virginia, an organization that wants to bring attention to prison reform in the Commonwealth.

“I think there’s a lot of games being played, a lot of cherry-picking going on,” Haywood said.

Haywood said people who would be impacted by the Earned Sentence Credit Bill are those who have been convicted of charges like robbery.

Haywood claims opponents of the bill are wanting to create fear for the public.

“They are trying to style this as a bill of people being convicted of rape and murder that’s the large majority of people getting out and that is false, the most people affected by the bill are those convicted of robbery which is not always a violent offense and others are felony assault.”

WSLS checked with the Department of Corrections and at this time, 4,500 are expected to be released from July 1 to September through the earned sentenced credit bill that was passed.

VADOC said roughly 12,000 inmates are released after serving time yearly just because their time is complete.

If the bill is not changed, roughly 16,000 in total could be released this year.

However, the difference is people disagree if others will recidivate.

“What is disturbing is over 2,000 of them have medium to high risk of recidivism,” Miyares said

Baker feels the Earned Sentence Credit Bill is beneficial for those who are on good behavior.

“This comes across as something we should be afraid of and it’s not,” Baker said.

About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.