White: New parole board grants fewest parolees ever | Columnists


Jonathan D.White

As someone who has been incarcerated for over 40 years, I was appalled to learn that in the first two weeks Governor Glenn Youngkin’s first parole board was in place, it denied all 177 applications for parole she has considered, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. After Democrats rejected all of those board nominations except for Chairman Chadwick Dotson, new parole board members were appointed April 6 by the governor. These new individuals will serve as an interim parole board until the General Assembly considers the nominations at the 2023 regular session.

This group of new members, although not yet confirmed by the General Assembly, decides the fate of all offenders eligible for parole examined by the examiners. I note that its chairman is a retired circuit court judge and former attorney general for Wise County and the town of Norton, and all of the new appointees have a track record in prosecution and law enforcement. law, as follows:

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Samuel L. Boone Jr., vice president, is a recruiter and troop master for the Virginia State Police.

Steven Buck served as Deputy Commonwealth Prosecutor in Richmond and Henrico, as well as Deputy Commonwealth Prosecutor in Albermarle, where he worked closely with law enforcement officers and victims of crime to prosecute criminal offences.

Michelle Dermyer is the widow of Virginia State Trooper Chad Phillip Dermyer who was killed in the line of duty on March 31, 2016. Upon Trooper Dermyer’s death, Michelle became a strong advocate and supporter of law enforcement , especially legislation that impacts survivors and their families, using her voice and advocacy to pass policies and laws that expand survivor benefits and sentencing guidelines for those convicted of capital murder law enforcement officers.

Toby Vick is an experienced litigator with an extensive resume as a prosecutor, but has also served as a defense attorney.

Under this commission, the parole grant rate fell to the lowest all-time since January 1995. According to the commission’s website, there were only 43 combined parole grants from January to July 2022, out of over 800 parole review considerations during this time. This raises concerning questions for parole-eligible offenders and their families about how acceptable these numbers of continued parole denials are in a state that has a recidivism rate of just 22.6%, among the ten top percentiles of states with the lowest recidivism rate.

Offenders eligible for parole currently represent less than 10% of the entire prison population housed in the Virginia Department of Corrections, or approximately 1,900 people, mostly those incarcerated prior to the abolition of parole in Virginie in January 1995. They have all served their sentences. ages 25 to 40+, and many have exceptional prison histories and are able to reintegrate into society as productive, law-abiding citizens – as determined in part by VDOC’s own risk assessment scores showing that their release is consistent with public safety and that they will do so pose virtually no risk to the community. Some also have medical conditions which are also a factor in their release.

Despite this, over the past seven months, hundreds of parole-eligible offenders who have been found to be rehabilitated (“corrected” by a Department of Corrections) have been denied parole.

I was incarcerated when I was 22 and am now 63 and eligible for discretionary and geriatric parole. I showed remorse and empathy for the victim and took full responsibility for my past actions. My positive academic and professional achievements include earning a college bachelor’s degree, completing all correctional treatment programs, demonstrating proactive participation in rehabilitation, maintaining a positive community support network, a low-risk assessment upon release to the community, freedom from offense throughout incarceration, having a stable and supported home release plan, and having an established reintegration job training plan in the meantime the Liberation.

Yet I have been denied parole 21 times in the past 25 years of eligibility, and I have served over 40 years of a multiple life sentence despite being a first-time offender. with an exceptionally good record of prison citizenship.

My question to Chairman Dotson and the Interim Parole Board is simply, “What standards of fitness for parole are not being applied in the review of my case, and many others like me, against the 43 who were granted parole? What do we need to do to be eligible for parole in the Commonwealth other than getting older, doing longer, or being diagnosed with a serious medical condition? »

White, 63, is serving multiple life sentences at Augusta Correctional Center. He was first incarcerated in 1981 and has been eligible for parole since 1998.

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