Attorney General Miyares releases parole board investigation report

Attorney General Jason Miyares released a 69-page report investigating what he called a “parole-granting frenzy” during the pandemic.

“What happened here was a clear abuse of power,” Miyares said. “What happened here was the epitome of putting criminals first and victims last.”

The Attorney General’s report said in the spring of 2020, 137 murderers, rapists, and armed robbers were released in violation of long-standing rules. Those convictions include 50 murders, 22 rapes, and 42 robberies.

This includes Gregory Joyner, convicted of murder and attempted rape in Lynchburg, and David Simpkins, a sex offender sentenced for an armed robbery in Pulaski County.

“Their attacker, their assailant, the person that held a gun up to the head of a young clerk at a gas station,” Miyares said. “Their lives are turned upside down because their assailant should have been behind bars.”

The report alleges former Virginia Parole Board chair Adrianne Bennett violated court orders, policies, and procedures and falsified discharge records.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin responded in a tweet, “I promised to take major steps to hold the parole board accountable, and I’m proud of the work the attorney general has done to deliver on those promises. We are restoring law and order to Virginia.”

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea previously served on the parole board for eight years. Lea left the board last January when Governor Youngkin took office.

“I don’t want to give any comment on their conclusions that they reached after interviewing our board members and others for this report,” Lea said.

However, Lea said a parole decision is carefully considered, he would look at behavior while incarcerated and the harm that was done to victims, as well as many other factors.

“Parole is something if used correctly can benefit the person the inmate to give them a second or third chance to go out into the community,” Lea said. “But there are going to be cases of parole that are not successful, that’s part of it.”

About the Author

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.

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