Category Archives: Crime , corrections and law enforcement

Jason Miyares–Judicial Activist?

Jason Miyares

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Jason Miyares has struck out again.

Miyares, Virginia’s Attorney General, keeps asking the Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia to interpret a statute, based not on how it is actually written, but based on what the General Assembly “intended”.  The court’s response is that its function is to ask “not what the legislature intended to enact, but what is the meaning of that which it did enact.  We must determine the legislative intent by what the statute says and not by what we think it should have said.”

At issue is the expansion of earned sentence credits for offenders in state prisons enacted by the 2020 General Assembly.  This legislation and its implementation has had a convoluted history, which I described in an earlier post.  In summary, the maximum number of sentence credits an offender can earn was increased from 4.5 days per 30 days served to 15 days per 30 days served.  The legislation listed a large number of exceptions to the expansion.  Among the offenses exempted from the expansion were Class 1 felonies (capital murder) and “any violation” of Sec. 18.1-32 (first degree murder).

The aspect of the legislation that Miyares keeps running up against is the omission of inchoate offenses in the list of exceptions. In legal terms, an inchoate crime is “a type of crime that is committed by taking a punishable step towards the commission of another crime. The three basic inchoate offenses are attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy.” Continue reading

Yes, MSNBC Morons, Virginia IS a Border State.

by Kerry Dougherty 

Remember back on the night of Super Tuesday when MSNBC’s far-left host Rachel Maddow and former Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki convulsed in laughter as they reported that the number one issue for Republican voters was the border?

“Well Virginia does have a border with West Virginia,” Maddow cackled, sending the panel of unserious pundits into more gales of laughter as they mocked both conservative Virginians and West Virginians.

It was a leftist twofer! The only thing missing was a crack about “deplorables.”

I guess it never occurred to these mindless cable creatures that 1,951 Virginians died of fentanyl overdoses in 2022, up 30% from the year before. In fact, according to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, more Virginians die every year from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents and gun-related deaths combined.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

And how do most illegal drugs get into our country? From China, via Mexico and the drug cartels running our border.

But go ahead and yuck it up ladies. We’re such a bunch of rubes down here. Continue reading

Prison Population Down, Crime Up in 2022. Coincidence?

The population of Virginia’s state and federal prisons posted a 10.5% decline between 2021 and 2022 — the largest drop of any state, according to new Department of Justice data. Oregon saw the second largest decline at 5.2%. Many states saw increases in their prison populations, as reported by WRIC news.

The total prison population for Virginia in 2022 was 27,162. The numbers do not include inmates of local jails.

The fall-off in prison population was especially marked among females — 18%. The DOJ report did not break down state-by-state prison populations by race.

With the exception of drug offenses, which declined, the crime rate per 100,000 population increased in almost all categories in 2022, according to the Virginia State Police “2022 Crime in Virginia” report.


Democrats Proposal to Cut Sentences Would Undermine Public Safety, AG Says

Jason Miyares

by Hans Bader

On February 27, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter to Virginia state legislators about a Democratic proposal to allow some violent offenders to receive sentence reductions previously available only to non-violent offenders.

Miyares asked legislators to prevent the proposal, passed by the House of Delegates on February 22, from going into effect, by adopting Gov. Glenn Youngkin‘s proposed budget item 390(R)(2).

“Cutting sentences for violent crime, especially in cases identified as a high risk for recidivism, is having a detrimental impact on public safety throughout Virginia,” Miyares wrote in the letter. “Aggressive sentence reductions for violent criminals and those with high risk for recidivism disregards past and future victims. Allowing such a practice is not justice, and it’s not safe.” Continue reading

Virginia Budget Amendment Could Lead to Lawsuits Seeking Many Inmates’ Release

from Liberty Unyielding

On February 22, Virginia’s progressive House of Delegates removed language from the state’s proposed budget that limited early releases of inmates who committed both violent and non-violent offenses. It removed that language in a 53-to-44 vote, then passed the House’s version of the state budget by a 75-to-24 vote.

If the final state budget also lacks this language, it will be argued that the affected inmates are entitled to be released earlier, including at least 500 of them this year, and thousands more in the years to come. In 2023, the Virginia Mercury reported that 8,000 offenders in Virginia prisons are there for a combination of violent and non-violent offenses, and thus would be affected by this sort of provision.

This provision would allow the affected inmates to benefit from a 2020 law passed by Democrats that released many non-violent inmates earlier by dramatically expanding time off inmates’ sentences for avoiding major prison infractions and participating in prison programs. This time off is known as “earned sentence credits.” Affected inmates who previously received 4.5 days off their sentence for every 30 days they largely complied with prison rules instead got 15 days off . Effectively, this shrank their period of incarceration by nearly a quarter from what they otherwise would have served. Prisons have been emptied as a result: Virginia recently announced plans to close four state prisons in 2024.

Continue reading

What Is It with Democrats and Criminals?

by Kerry Dougherty

Elections have consequences.

And when Virginia voted last November to give Democrats a slim majority in the General Assembly they also voted to give almost 8,000 violent criminals a shot at getting back on the streets.

This ill-conceived measure – SB427 – is the evil brainchild of Sen. Creigh Deeds, who believes that juries and judges should be second-guessed once an inmate has served at least 25 years of his – it’s almost always a male – sentence.

News flash: any inmate who’s served that many years in prison is a bad dude. A murderer, a rapist or some other sort of vile reptile. These are not petty criminals or marijuana users.

(Deeds’ initial bill wanted to spring felons after 15 years behind bars, but he amended it.) Continue reading

Partisan Poison: Va Dems Quash a Bill to Protect School Kids

Del. A.C. Cordoza

by Kerry Dougherty 

How exactly is Virginia’s General Assembly celebrating Black History Month?

By killing a bill to protect children in public school lavatories, introduced by Del. A.C. Cordoza of Hampton.

Cordoza is an African-American. And a Republican. He was famously denied membership in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus when he was elected in 2022.

Sadly, to the caucus, he’s not the right kind of Black man. Because his views are on the right.

Cordoza claims his bill that would require school personnel to check bathrooms every 30 minutes would not require added personnel nor would it cost taxpayers a dime.

It was tabled, he told the Virginia Mercury, because he’s a Republican.

While the proposed legislation was not expected to impact state spending, Cordoza said his bill was still forwarded from the House Education Committee to the House Appropriations Committee for review. It died in that committee without a hearing.

“It’s sent there to die,” said Cordoza, “to die quietly because they don’t want the world to know that they’re killing a bill to protect little girls in the bathroom, but they want to make sure that a Black Republican is not the one who does it.” said Del. A.C. Cordoza, R-Hampton.

It’s actually a practical suggestion, given that there have been a number of assaults in several school bathrooms, and perhaps some that have not been reported. Having an adult stick his or her head in the lavatory every 30 minutes would certainly discourage bullies and sex offenders. Continue reading

Progressive Legislators Declare “Profound Solidarity” with Criminals

from the Liberty Unyielding blog

Killings and violence have risen in the U.S. over the last decade, as some government officials have come to sympathize more with criminals than their victims. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus recently said it is “in profound solidarity” with Virginia’s prison population, and that its members “work to dismantle the unjust criminal system.” They said the criminal-justice system has the “role of dehumanizing, abusing and punishing Black America.”

Thirty-two of Virginia’s 140 state legislators belong to the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, including the speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, Don Scott; the president pro tempore of the state Senate, Louise Lucas; the head of the House Appropriations Committee; and the head of the Senate Rules Committee.

On February 14, the VLBC issued a statement that began:

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) remains in profound solidarity with the 122,500 Virginians who are actively trapped in our state’s criminal justice system, nearly half of whom are Black. When slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, it was qualified with “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” With that, mass incarceration was born and the criminal justice system absorbed the role of dehumanizing, abusing and punishing Black America. Continue reading

Judge Uses Crude Statistics to Find Racial Profiling by Richmond Police

by Hans Bader

A judge recently found that the City of Richmond racially profiles black motorists, dismissing the indictment of a black convicted felon accused of illegally possessing a gun. The judge did not find that defendant Keith Moore had been treated differently than a similarly situated white motorist. Instead, he ruled that Richmond police stops are racially discriminatory, based on statistics showing blacks are stopped and arrested at much higher rates than whites; and based on Richmond’s past “history of discrimination,” such as racialized zoning and redlining, and the “Confederate foundations” of the Richmond Police Department. “The Court will not require Moore to provide evidence of similarly situated individuals to prove his selective enforcement claim,” wrote the judge.

This is likely to create big problems for the City of Richmond, potentially leading to many criminals being released from jail. If a judge claims racial discrimination happened, he should identify what policies are racially discriminatory, or give concrete examples of discrimination, so that the problem can be fixed.  But Judge Gibney failed to do that in his February 12 ruling in United States v. Keith Rodney Moore. So now the City is deemed guilty of discrimination, based on things no individual police officer can change (such as city-wide statistics), and things that literally no one can change (such as  the confederate origins of the police department and Richmond’s segregated past). If other judges follow this flawed ruling, other criminals can also have their indictments dismissed based on city-wide statistics, even if it is undisputed that they committed the crime for which they were arrested.

Although the judge cited statistical disparities, he did not cite any specific police practices that led to blacks being stopped at higher rates, as he should have done if police were actually at fault. In Smith v. City of Jackson (2005), the Supreme Court ruled that even unintentional discrimination (disparate-impact) cannot be proved through statistics unless “specific” practices are identified that caused the “statistical disparities.” The disparities themselves are not enough. Continue reading

General Assembly Committees Approve Bill That Would Allow Even Serial Killers to Seek Release

from Liberty Unyielding

When Virginia abolished the death penalty in 2021, Virginians were assured it wasn’t needed, because the worst killers could be given life sentences without the possibility of parole.

But now, even the worst killers could eventually be released. Committees in Virginia’s Democratic-controlled legislature have approved bills to allow all inmates serving long sentences to seek release after specified periods — even serial killers and others who committed aggravated murders who once would have been eligible for the death penalty. HB 834 and SB 427, known as the “second look” bills, have been amended to create three tiers for release. Most inmates could seek release after 15 years, while those who commit the most serious offenses would have to wait 20 years or 25 years, depending on their offense.

For Virginia inmates whose prison sentences are shorter than 15 years, this legislation would change nothing. Most rapists who are first-time offenders, and many second-degree murderers, receive sentences of less than 15 years to begin with.

But for serial killers and others who commit aggravated murders who are serving a sentence of life without parole, the passage of this “second look” legislation would be a big change. It could give them even more than parole. Inmates released on parole are subject to the supervision of a parole officer, and if they misbehave or evade oversight, they can be sent back to prison for a long time. By contrast, an inmate who has been released under the “second look” legislation lacks these guardrails, and is not accountable to a parole officer, because his release marks the end of his sentence. Continue reading

Checking up on Steve Descano

Steve Descano. Commonwralth’s Attorney, Fairfax. Photo credit: WTOP

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Contributors and many readers of this blog have been highly critical of Steve Descano, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County.  They belittle him as being a Soros-backed, “woke” prosecutor, soft on crime. They seem to have missed Descano’s involvement in a recent high-profile case.

As described by The Washington Post, the defendant in the case had agreed to allow his home to serve as a delivery point for marijuana that was going to be sold by the victim. There had been a dispute between the defendant and the victim. When the victim knocked on the door of the defendant’s apartment, he sneaked out the back door, retrieved an AR-15 -style rifle from his car, and opened fire on the victim, killing him, and spraying bullets into adjacent occupied apartments. Continue reading

Dems Want to Block a Tough-On-Crime Parole Board Chief

by Kerry Dougherty

Virginia Democrats are audacious. You’ve got to give them that.

During the lawless  McAuliffe-Northam years, Virginia’s Parole Board was headed by bleeding hearts, who specialized in releasing criminals.

They were rewarded for their soft-hearted approach with judgeships. Because that’s how Democrats roll.

You’d think the party that favors criminals over victims wouldn’t want to remind the public of its own terrible record.

But they can’t help themselves.

Now that Gov. Glenn Youngkin has named Patricia West, a tough, super-qualified retired Virginia Beach judge to the same position, they’re trying to block her confirmation. They fear she’ll be too tough on criminals.

Dems have removed her name from a list of gubernatorial appointments. Her name could be restored by the entire General Assembly.

You’d think Democrats would be so embarrassed by what they did when they controlled the board they wouldn’t want to remind the public of their own terrible record. Continue reading

From Sanctuary to Stooge

Mayor Levar Stoney

by Jon Baliles

Most of us have tried hard to block out Mayor Stoney’s July 4th fiasco, when his then-police chief tried hard to impress the boss and concocted a fake foiled mass shooting plot at Dogwood Dell on July 4, 2022. The Mayor denied he ever knew about it. The chief said he knew about it beforehand but claims to have never told the mayor or any of the officers working the event in a public park that annually draws thousands of people. Within days the story fell apart and it was revealed in court a few weeks later that there was no — as in zero — evidence that there ever was a planned mass shooting.

You might not also recall back in 2017 when the newly installed Mayor Stoney unofficially declared Richmond a sanctuary city and would protect people that might be in this country illegally from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He said, according to CBS6, “We need to protect our children and our families so they can learn and prosper. That means protecting all of our residents… and protecting them regardless of whether they have legal status in our country.”

The reason that these things are related is that the man falsely accused of plotting a mass shooting is wishing he had never come to Richmond or heard of Levar Stoney. If Stoney actually meant what he said that day in 2017 about protecting immigrants, then Julio Alvarado Dubon never would have been falsely accused of a mass shooting or spent the last 17 months in jail, and is now facing deportation back to Guatemala. Continue reading

Roanoke’s Murder Crisis

Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. (D). During his administration from 2017-2023, Roanoke City has had an unprecedented 123 murders.

by Scott Dreyer

Roanoke City, with about 97,000 residents, suffered a record-breaking 31 murders in 2023,causing some to question the city’s leadership and direction.

Based on public announcements and appearances, how concerned are Roanoke’s leaders about the Star City’s murder pandemic?

In Mayor Sherman Lea Sr.’s (D) announcement that he will not run for re-election in 2024, he made no-mention of the gun violence / murder crisis or work that needs to be done to address it. His only reference to “guns” was touting the “Formation of the Gun Violence Prevention Commission.” He also boasted the “Removal of Robert E. Lee Memorial,” even though Lee died in 1870.

Lea ignored these bloody Roanoke benchmarks since he won election as Mayor in 2016:

  • 2017, record-breaking 17 murders (up 41.6% from 2016);
  • 2022, record-breaking 18 murders (up 5.8% from 2021);
  • 2023, record-breaking 31 murders (up 72.2% from 2022);
  • Not counting 2016, 123 murders 2017-2023;
  • First Mayor in Roanoke history where every year in office had double-digit murder rate.

When Mayor Lea was asked about this situation, a staff member emailed: “Mayor Lea is unable to offer comments and would like to direct you to the City Manager’s office.” Continue reading

Virginia Bill Would Allow Even Serial Killers to be Released After 15 Years

from the  Liberty Unyielding blog

On January 9, a bill was introduced to let Virginia prison inmates be released after 15 years with the approval of a judge. Even serial killers serving life sentences without parole would be eligible for release. In 2022, a similar bill easily passed the Democratic-controlled state senate, only to die in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates. But this year, Democrats control both houses of Virginia’s legislature, so it may pass.

The bill, HB 834, would not require all inmates to be released after 15 years, but it would encourage their release by letting judges release inmates based on factors slanted in favor of release, and by giving most inmates the right to a taxpayer-funded lawyer to argue for their release. The bill instructs judges to consider factors that typically favor release, such as “support from” stakeholders for the inmate’s release, “and the petitioner’s efforts to participate in any educational or therapeutic programs.” It does not list factors such as deterrence and retribution, even though the Supreme Court has ruled that those are both valid reasons to keep an inmate in prison, in decisions such as Tison v. Arizona (1987).

Such early releases would increase crime and make it harder to deter premeditated murders. A 2014 study in the American Economic Journal found that early releases of prison inmates increased Italy’s crime rate. A 1998 study found that longer prison sentences deter violent crimes more effectively than short ones, based on California’s experience after it increased sentences for repeat offenders who commit murder, robbery, or rape. (See Daniel Kessler, et al., Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 6484 (March 1998)). Continue reading