Virginia Parole Law changes

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Governor Bob McDonnell
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218

We, the undersigned, express our sincere concern regarding the current injustice occurring within the decision-making process of the Virginia Parole Board. We have been made aware of the fact that there are thousands of men and women in prison who, having committed crimes prior to January 1, 1995, are eligible for parole. However, the 1995 No Parole Law has had a retroactive effect on these men and women, and this was not the General Assembly's or the court's intent.

The Attorney General then, Jim Gilmore, issued a report-- The Attorney General's Opinion of 1994-- stating that the prisoners who committed their crimes before January 1, 1995, have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in fair parole consideration.

We feel the Parole Board's behavior has created a blanket punishment, which the law did not intend. When the General Assembly set the guidelines for parole, prior to the No Parloe Law, we believe they did so with great care and consideration. Within those guidelines were safeguards protecting the public, as well as ensuring excessive punishment would not be needlessly inflicted upon the convicted. A person having served 10-15-20-25-30 years, abiding by the rules and regulations, expressing genuine remorse for his/her crimes, and striving to enhance his/her life and the lives of others, should be afforded an opportunity to reenter society and become a productive citizen. To deprive one of this opportunity due to the nature and circumstances of a crime that was committed a decade(s) ago is irrational. These crimes will not change, just as one's birth date will not change. Both will remain...........

As citizens of the United States we are disappointed that our government would allow its citizens, whether free or bound, to be treated unfairly and made to suffer unjustly. We are advocates for that which is right, not merely motivated by personal connections to any inmates in the State of Virginia, but driven by the spirit of fairness.

We have family members who since their convictions have had exemplary behaivior since being convicted. The law requires parole be granted to those deemed suitable following a thorough investigation ... into the prisoners history, physical and mental condition and character and his conduct, employment and attitude while in prison...yet inmates such as my fiance are not getting the time removed for the old law crimes. we see reports of overcrowded conditions, high costs to take care of prisoners, and closing of jails because of the cost. If some of these prisoners were released this would halt some of the issues.

We, as citizens, have the same concern as others about the rising crime rate. But by our observation on a personal basis we see the "system" as a large part of the problem rather than being a viable element or its solution. Until some reason is restored concerning the length of time individuals are incarcerated without credible treatment programs and some sanity is restored in the system for considering parole suitability, the problems will remain unsolved.

In your study of the issues relating to sentencing and parole we request that you consider creative alternatives to the current bankrupt system and intelligently filter out the rhetoric of the current political campaigns designed to play to and prey on the fears of the public rather than seek long-term solutions. The belief that increasing sentences, delaying parole, and building more prisons solves the problem is unfounded, unreasonable, and unending.

Please as our these laws and make some much needed changes.