Challenge Injustice ~ Virginia Parole Board

  • Author:
    n/a
  • Send To:
    VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE BODY: GOVERNOR, SENATE & HOUSE
  • Sponsored By:
    Virginia Residents & all Concerned US Citizens
  • More Info at:
REPORTED: "UNEQUAL JUSTICE: AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE VIRGINIA CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM"
April, 2001 http://www.usccr.gov (Publications)

Finding 4: Overwhelmingly disproportionate numbers of African Americans are under criminal supervision, overloading the criminal justice system in Virginia to a crisis level. Antecedents to this crisis are in the devastating consequences of educational, economic, and social disadvantages. The Committee finds that State and local governments pay little attention to the societal treatment of African Americans in general and consequences of drug law enforcement tactics in particular.

Recommendation 4.1: The Virginia General Assembly should place high priority on the work of its Joint Subcommittee Studying the Status and Needs of African American Males in Virginia, providing it with resources and staff support sufficient to fulfill its mandate to study the issues. Upon completion of the mandated study, it should take immediate action to pass corrective and ameliorative legislation.
*****************************************************************************

THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE BODY: THE GOVERNOR, THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE

WE RESPECTFULLY SUBMIT THIS PETITION TO THE ABOVE-REFERENCE. WE INCLUDED THE ABOVE FINDINGS TO SUPPORT OUR PETITION THAT CORRECTIVE ACTION IS NEEDED POST HASTE IN THE VIRGINIA JUSTICE SYSTEM!

Re: The Governor's Commission on Sentence and Parole Reform

We are a group of family members, friends and volunteers who are concerned about incarcerated men and women. Our concerns involves more than our close relationships with these men. We also are taxpayers who are concerned about the ineffective use of public funds for building additional prisons. We believe this approach is unsound and proven by history to be an investment in failure. We believe the Virginia Parole Board, through its arbitrary and capricious administration of the parole process, is contributing to the over-crowding problem by retaining in prison thousands of inmates who have demonstrated suitability for parole.

Incarcerated individuals are given sentences by the trial judge based on laws enacted by the General Assembly and a full understanding of the good-time system. The system of earning good-time toward discretionary and mandatory parole was established by the same legislative body and administered by the Department of Corrections. In a significant number of cases, the inmates abide by the conditions imposed on their behavior, meet all the requirements dictated by their treatment plan, and prepare adequate plan for their return to society (a place to live, a job, additional treatment, etc.). Then, time after time, they are denied parole for the "serious nature and circumstances of your crime." The parole board is permitted to disregard the laws concerning length of sentence and good-time and the discretion of the sentencing judge in favor of the value judgments of the individual parole board members as to the adequacy of time served.

By their arbitrary use of "the nature and circumstances of your crime" as the basis for denying parole, they send a clear message to inmates that nothing they do while in prison counts. Efforts to rehabilitate themselves are unimportant. Conduct is irrelevant. Planning for parole is futile. Release from prison will come only when the parole decides enough time has been served. The time has come to make the parole board accountable not only for those inmates it paroles, but for those it chooses not to parole.


The Commonwealth has in its prisons a literal "captive audience" to which to address specific treatment programs. Each inmates root problem and treatment needs are known. Yet, politicians opt for short-term "fixes" such as building more prisons, increasing sentences, and reducing opportunity for parole. These solutions are temporary in that almost every inmate will return to society at some point, perhaps later if the politicians have their way, and they are more embittered and less prepared to function in society upon release. Effectively, they have been "warehoused", untreated, and driven to such a degree of poverty that they are unable to support themselves and their families when released. If the statistics quoted by many are true that 75\% of crimes are committed by repeat offenders, there appear to be only two solutions to the crime and recidivism problems - lock up everyone who commits a crime for the remainder of his/her life or address the issues which brought him to prison. The first option, which seems to be the one in vogue today, has a tremendous cost, not only in dollars but in costs to human lives and families. Revenge cannot be the only goal of the justice system.

The parole process which affects a year (or 2-3 years in the case of deferrals) in the life of an individual and his family has been reduced to an average 5-7 minute deliberation by parole board members, acting individually rather than as a board. This deliberation follows a 15-20 minute interview by a parole examiner who makes a recommendation concerning parole based on the results of the interview and the input by the inmates counselor. The inmate sees his counselor at best only about four hours per year. There is no input from the correctional officers, work supervisors, or other staff members who observe the inmate on a daily basis.

The decision is therefore made at the pinnacle of ignorance by bureaucratic body which answers to no one for its lack of logic. The board does not participate in the problems caused by its decision. It does not have to deal with the disciplinary problems for the families of those denied parole who must struggle to survive yet another year of separation and loss of family income. It's time to restore a degree of credibility in the system for both inmates and their families.

The parole board is unrestrained from considering, as part of the decision parameters, convictions which have been overturned on appeal, and routinely require in parole interviews a defense of those charges. In effect, this procedure negates the decision of the appeals court and supreme court and substitutes and additional review of a crime or crimes already deemed absolved by the judicial system.

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.

We thank you in advance for the corrective actions that you will implement in this regard.

Respectfully submitted,
(Electronic Signature)

736 Signatures

  • Anthony P
  • Chanetta C
    • Political Affiliation
    • Democrat
  • Ken C
  • Karen F
  • Diana H
  • Tracy Watts S
  • Sr. Christopher, H
    • Comments
    • Paralyzed geriatric inmates imprisoned 30 years for stealing food is WRONG !
  • Annette E. B
  • sarah w
  • CHERYL F
    • Political Affiliation
    • DEMOCRAT
  • Lynn E
  • Kimberley L
    • Comments
    • If anyone in the Govenors office reads this. Please reconsider the old law inmates. They all deserve a second chance to live life again! Franklin Layne is a person that deserves that chance. He is in Greenville Correctional center and we are fighting for him!!!
  • Scott W
  • lashawn j
  • Brenda F
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • allowing input from guards who see them daily.
  • Pat J
    • Comments
    • As a reason for not granting parole--it is always 'due to the serious nature of the crime'--I would like to know how that is ever going to change for the inmate to be released if it is the serious nature involved---I would think that would never be changed and Parole would be granted if the PERSON who is incarcerated has shown HE as a person has changed----is the parole board then saying the few that are released out---that the crime they committed then is not considered to be Serious any longer????? There are those that have been confined and had been doing as the State had said they should--only to be denied Parole time and again and now--even given a higher security classification even without having no charges---working--and just doing his time without being a problem---just because of the crime he is in for---yet HE had changed---How is one suppose to ever get paroled in Va?????????.
    • E-mail
    • [email protected]
  • Deborah S
    • Comments
    • Virginia be the great state that you can be and make a change for the better! What about these men in Segregation because they refuse to cut their hair for religious principle. They believe in the Constitution so should we!
  • Miranda L. B
  • Rev. Peggy B
    • E-mail
    • [email protected]
  • Jean A
    • Comments
    • We will continue our advocacy for fair parole policies and for the release of our men and women who have served far longer sentences than the courts expected. Public safety is not enhanced by keeping prisoners who are eligible for parole and prepared to return to our communities and our homes. Parole policies appear to be politically motivated. Prisoners, like the rest of society, deserve to be treated with dignity and consideration. Join Virginia CURE and be part of our efforts to bring attention to the needs of prisoners and their families.
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • Virginia CURE, P.O. Box 19453, Alexandria, VA 22320-0453 - [email protected]
  • Tracy K
  • Sondrah N
    • Comments
    • What a beautiful WEBSITE
  • Reb B
    • Comments
    • If blacks didn't commit so many crimes, there wouldn't be so many of them in jail. Can you say, "Duh"?
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • Go back to Africa. Whites won't discriminate against you, there.
  • Judge D
    • Comments
    • I challenge you to back up[ your statement, "Reb Biker", you rascist scum
  • TONYA L M
  • Janet B. F
    • Comments
    • The entire correctional system and its tangent affiliations, such as the Parole Board, need to be revised. Hiding behind "political correctness" only serves to further exacerbate an already critical situation.
    • E-mail
    • 
    • Political Affiliation
    • 
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • 
  • Mary J
  • Janet K
    • Comments
    • I agree with this Petition, because I have been lied to by the VIrginia Parole Board and the Dept. of Correction.
  • SHERYL H
    • Comments
    • THE PAROLE BOARD IS NOT FAIR AND I AGREE TO THIS ENTIRE MESSAGE I JUST READ. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT IT BECAUSE THE PAROLE BOARD IS NOT THEIR FOR NON-VIOLENT CRIMINALS. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH OF THEM DECIDING WHEN TO LET A VIOLATOR OUT. I AM A VICTIM OF LOSING ANOTHER YEAR DUE TO THE DENIAL OF PAROLE THREE CONSECUTIVE TIMES FOR A NON-VIOLET CHARGE. THE PAROLE BOARD MUST BE EXPOSED.
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • SOMEONE MUST LOOK INTO THIS VERY IMPORTANT MATTER AND CHANGE SOME OF THE STRICT GUIDELINES FOR PAROLE.
  • Sharon S
    • Comments
    • All of this is absolutely correct and well overdue
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • TV, Newspaper ads. Local support groups. Financial assistance for inmates needing to attend family funerals, etc.
  • Chad D
  • RONNETTE P
    • Comments
    • Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court justice said it best when he made the following statements: When the prison gates shut behind inmates, he does not lose his human quality. His mind does not cease to feed on a free open interchange of opinions. His yearning for self-respect does not end, nor is his quest for self-realization concluded. If anything, the need for identity and self-respect are more compelling in the dehumanizing prison environment. I sign this OVERDUE petition in regards to my brother and all of our people. My brother has been in the system since he was 14.5 yrs old and now (AGE 35yrs) 5x denial hearings; on an original 5yr sentence (including all added street time while incarcerate) he will meet his mandatory time 2004, with zero time left. This is just is totally WRONG! He was a kid, no killing, rape or anything crazy involved. He was just a kid, hanging with the wrong kids, doing stupid kid stuff. GOD BLESS THOSE WHO STARTED THIS PETITION!! The Poole Family
  • Margie N
    • Comments
    • Our prison system is not about reforming men and women. It is truly the belly of the beast. Set our families free.
  • Michelle C
    • Comments
    • Sentencing does not stop when the incarceration has stopped,......it continues and hangs over not only the parolees heads, but suffers also the families...the cost, the time,....
  • Jean Marie S
    • Comments
    • My son is in a federal prison and I thought he should be reviewed each year. The parole board said last year they would review him when his time was up and thats over two more years.
  • jennifer elaine p
    • Comments
    • this is very true and serious. And why are they getting rid of parole all together? Some of these men do deserve the chance!
  • Amelia C. G
    • Comments
    • I agree with this Petition 100%
    • Political Affiliation
    • GOP
  • Joan B. G
  • Nicole L
  • Beverley G
  • LESLEY D. P
    • Political Affiliation
    • DEMOCRATIC
  • Andrea F. D
  • Helen W. C
    • Comments
    • I support this effort 150%
    • E-mail
    • [email protected]
    • Political Affiliation
    • Democrat
    • Suggestion for Outreach
    • Keep up the good work
  • SEPTEMBER B
  • JESSICA W
    • Comments
    • I THINK THAT IF HE IS REBLATED AND HAS NOT DONE ANYTHING WHILE IN PRISON HE SHOULD GET OUT ON PROLE EVERYONE DIVERSE A SECOND CHANCE IN LIFE
  • Rose W
    • Political Affiliation
    • Democrat
  • TINA W. G
  • B. S. M
    • Comments
    • My son is a inmate in west va, He is in Regional jail due to no room inDOC . He has been in this holding unit for 16months. He goes up for parole Dec. 2002. I pray he makes it home. I agree with you in Va. He is a non violent , he had a drug addiction. He was in abuse programs prior to his sentencing.He has been clean for over 2years. His 2 children are with me. Our home is in N.C. I hurt and cry every day for his release. He was forced to take a plea 2yr.to 35yrs. or fase life. Now we find out he would not have gotten life. But I have no money to appeal this. Please Pray for us.I know there are many programs out here to help many inmates like my son. Prison is not the answer.
  • B. S. M
    • Comments
    • My son is a inmate in west va, He is in Regional jail due to no room inDOC . He has been in this holding unit for 16months. He goes up for parole Dec. 2002. I pray he makes it home. I agree with you in Va. He is a non violent , he had a drug addiction. He was in abuse programs prior to his sentencing.He has been clean for over 2years. His 2 children are with me. Our home is in N.C. I hurt and cry every day for his release. He was forced to take a plea 2yr.to 35yrs. or fase life. Now we find out he would not have gotten life. But I have no money to appeal this. Please Pray for us.I know there are many programs out here to help many inmates like my son. Prison is not the answer.
  • BS M
    • Comments
    • Correction to #143 Signature Email Address