Virginia lawmakers push to make parole board more transparent
Criminal justice reform efforts are moving forward in the Virginia General Assembly. Some legislation is focused on making the highly-criticized parole board more transparent. On Monday, the Senate of Virginia approved Senate Bill 1103 to make the board’s votes on whether to release someone public. Sen. David Suetterlein, a Republican who represents District 19, led the charge for that bill, getting bipartisan support. Other legislation in the works would require the parole board to contact prosecutors, victims and families about the process.
Virginia senate defeats bill to restore parole
The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee voted to send the measure to the Virginia State Crime Commission for study, ending the bill’s chances of passing this year. Virginia abolished discretionary parole in 1995 and began requiring offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. AdDespite the 1995 parole abolition, a limited number of incarcerated people are eligible for consideration: mainly those who committed their crimes before 1995 or are older than 60 and meet certain conditions making them eligible for geriatric release. They emphasized that the bill wouldn’t automatically grant parole, it would just give inmates a chance to have their case considered. AdSen. Joe Morrissey, who was a chief co-patron of the bill, said he supports the restoration of parole but agreed that the issue needs more study.