Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July 20, 2015: 1st Meeting of Governor McAuliffe's Parole Review Commission in Richmond Virginia

photo by Bob Brown

Yesterday Governor McAuliffe’s Parole Review Commission held its first meeting at the Capitol and I attended. I plan on being at all future meetings as well. 

I took notes, recorded 3 hours of audio and even asked two questions when I was not permitted to. 

The room was packed and before the meeting it seems per news articles I’ve read since that the Virginia GOP held a press conference against the Commission even though there is a Republican Delegate and Senator and a former Republican Senator, now Sherriff who participated in the abolishment of parole back in 1995 on the Commission. So if the Republican Party of Virginia is anti-Commission we can already conclude that these 3 members bias will play a part in their recommendations. 

  • Since 1995 Virginia has increased the sentences for some crimes as much as 500%.
  • 15 States have abolished parole and 3 of those States have since made modifications
  • There are currently 37,738 incarcerated people in Virginia.
-       Of these 3,062 inmates are “Parole Eligible” (PE) and have served more than 20 years (could be from parole violation).
§     Of these 480 (16%) were convicted of Rape or Sexual Assault and 563 (18%) of Abduction
  • As of 2014 there is a 3% grant rate by the Parole Board for those who are Parole Eligible.
  • In 2014 the Parole Board considered 63 inmates who were convicted of Rape or Sexual Assault and 7 convicted of a Sex Offense.
  • 20% of Virginia’s total prison population is 50 years or older = Geriatric Population, an 84% increase since 2006. Mostly Rape or Sexual Assault convictions.
  • From the Geriatric Population AND “Parole Eligible” population convicted of Rape or Sexual Assault
-          20% is 60-64 years old
-          31% is 65 years or older
  • There are currently 51,715 Virginians under Probation or Parole supervision in the Commonwealth.

From a Governors Office email:
On June 24th the Governor signed Executive Order No. 44 creating the Commission and charging it with reviewing Virginia’s approach to parole and recommending any policy changes that may enhance public safety while protecting taxpayer dollars.  

The Commission will be chaired by former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney. 

“This bipartisan panel of Virginia leaders will bring an array of perspectives to this important discussion about how our Commonwealth can best keep our communities safe while spending every taxpayer dollar as wisely as possible,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “I applaud their willingness to put political dogma and preconceived notions aside and engage in a thoughtful process about how this policy has worked for Virginians over the past twenty years and whether there are any opportunities to improve it going forward. With the guidance of Co-Chairs Moran, Stoney and Earley, I am confident that their final report will represent the best interests of all citizens of the Commonwealth.” 

The Commission will address five significant priorities related to Parole Reform:
1.       Conduct A Review of Previous Goals and Subsequent Outcomes.
2.       Examine the Cost of Parole Reform/Abolition

3.       Evaluate the Best Practices of Other States

4.       Recommend Other Mediation Strategies

5.       Provide Recommendations to Address Public Safety Challenges

A draft report is due to the Governor by Nov. 2, 2015, with a final report due Dec. 4, 2015. 

Members are as follows:
·       The Honorable Mark L. Earley, Sr., of Leesburg, Former Attorney General of Virginia; Owner, Earley Legal Group, LLC.  Will serve as Chair.
·       The Honorable Brian Moran of Arlington, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.  Will serve as Co-Chair.
·       The Honorable Levar M. Stoney of Richmond, Secretary of the Commonwealth.  Will serve as Co-Chair.
·       The Honorable Jill Vogel of Fauquier, Member, Senate of Virginia
·       The Honorable Dave Marsden of Burke, Member, Senate of Virginia
·       The Honorable Dave Albo of Fairfax, Member, Virginia House of Delegates; Chairman, Courts of Justice Committee
·       The Honorable Luke E. Torian of Prince William, Member, Virginia House of Delegates
·       The Honorable Kenneth W. Stolle of Virginia Beach, Sheriff, Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office
·       The Honorable La Bravia J. Jenkins of the City of Fredericksburg,  Commonwealth’s Attorney
·       Gail Arnall, Ph.D., of Washington, DC, Consultant for Outreach and Development, Offender Aid and Restoration
·       Camille Cooper of Louisa, Director of Government Affairs, The National Association to PROTECT Children & PROTECT. 
·       Marcus M. Hodges of Spotsylvania, President, National Association of Probation Executives
·       Cynthia E. Hudson of Richmond, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
·       Kimberly Lettner of Farmville, Retired Chief of Police, Division of Capitol Police
·       William R. Richardson, Jr. of Arlington, Member, Virginia CURE; Retired partner, Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP.
·       Cheryl Robinette of Buchanan, Director of Substance Abuse Services, Cumberland Mountain Community Services Board
·       Mira Signer of Richmond, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia
·       Faye S. Taxman, Ph.D.,  of Gaithersburg, MD, Professor, George Mason University
·       David R. Lett of Richmond, Public Defender, Petersburg Public Defender’s Office
·       Meredith Farrar-Owens of Henrico, Director, Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission
·       Sandra M. Brandt of Norfolk, Executive Director, STEP-UP inc.
·       Alvin Edwards, Ph.D, of Charlottesville, Pastor, Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church

·       Jack Gravely, JD. of Richmond, Executive Director, Virginia State NAACP

·       Bobby N. Vassar of Richmond, Chief Counsel (Retired), U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime

·       Timothy J. Heaphy of Charlottesville, Partner, Hunton & Williams, former United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia

·       Mindy M. Stell of Dinwiddie, President, Virginia Victim Assistance Network
·       Thomas M. Wolf of Richmond, Partner, LeClairRyan 

Ex-Officio Members:
·       Tonya Chapman of Richmond, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
·       Karen Brown of Richmond, Chair, Virginia Parole Board

·       Harold Clarke of Richmond, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections

·       Francine Ecker of Richmond, Director, Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services

·       Margaret Schultze of Richmond, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Social Services