by Hans Bader
Do all inmates deserve a chance for release? Even a serial killer, or a serial rapist who has been locked up and released before?
They may soon have that chance in Virginia. In the state Senate, the Judiciary Committee has just approved the Second Look bill, SB 842. It would allow offenders of all kinds to file petitions for release or modification of their sentences after they’ve served 15 years. Judges wouldn’t have to grant the petitions, but they could if they think an inmate has mended his ways.
Under the bill, an inmate could be released despite any “combination of any convictions” such as being convicted of both murders and rapes. The bill was approved in an 8-to-6 vote largely along party lines, over conservative opposition.
Supporters of the bill argue that “everyone deserves a second chance.” But to critics, the bill goes beyond giving offenders a second chance, because it gives even the most persistent re-offenders the opportunity to seek release — people who already had and squandered a “second chance.” As an objector noted, “most inmates doing more than 15 years have already had their second, third, fourth, and fifth chances — the typical released state prison inmate has five prior convictions, according to Rafael Mangual, who studies the criminal-justice system at the Manhattan Institute.” Continue reading
by Hans Bader
In Virginia’s legislature, rent-control legislation has been introduced by five Democratic delegates and a Democratic state senator. Economists oppose rent control because it makes it more difficult for people to find decent housing in the long run. In a 1992 poll, 93% of those surveyed said rent control reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.
But Democrat-run Loudoun County is now asking the Virginia legislature for the power to impose rent control. DC News Now reported in December that “New policies could soon be introduced in Richmond at the request of Loudoun County. One would place a limit on rent increases.”
This is surprising, because even left-leaning economists mostly think rent control is stupid, as expressed by Swedish economics professor Assar Lindbeck. He said, “Rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city — except for bombing.”
In 1989, Vietnam’s socialist leaders reluctantly admitted that their policy of rent control had destroyed the housing stock of Vietnam’s capital city, which had been sturdy enough to survive years of American bombing during the Vietnam War. Vietnam’s foreign minister said, “The Americans couldn’t destroy Hanoi, but we have destroyed our city by very low rents. We realized it was stupid and that we must change policy.”
Yet State Senator Jennifer Boysko, who represents Virginia’s Loudoun County, has introduced SB 1278, a rent-control bill. It would allow cities and counties to adopt rent control ordinances, under which rent increases would be limited to inflation or less. Her legislation states that such ordinances “shall prohibit any increase in the rent by such landlord of more than” the “percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index,” and “may allow rent increases … by an amount not to exceed” that inflation rate. The same bill has been introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates by Democratic socialist Nadarius Clark and four other Democrats, as HB 1532. Continue reading
In 2022, legislation allowing inmates to seek a reduction in their sentence after 15 years in prison passed the Virginia state Senate, but died in a 5-to-3 vote in a House subcommittee after a lobbyist for the bill boasted it would empty two entire Virginia prisons. The bill, SB 378, was viewed by House Republicans and many prosecutors as too radical. It was criticized because, unlike other early-release bills, it did not exclude from release even inmates who committed the most violent offenses, such as serial killings and aggravated murders (Class 1 felonies).
In 2023, this bill has been introduced again, as SB 842. It is still known as the “second-look” bill. But this time, even safeguards found in the original legislation, such as that inmates exhibit mostly good behavior in prison before being released, have been removed — inmates no longer need to meet such “behavioral standards” to be released.
The new bill also allows violent criminals to be released without a formal finding that they are no longer a danger to the victim or the victim’s family, or to the community. Such findings are required as a safeguard by “second-look” laws in other jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia. Washington, DC’s municipal second-look law requires a finding “that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any person or the community” before a sentence can be reduced. (See D.C. Code § 24-403.03(a)(2)). But no such finding is required under the Virginia second-look legislation just introduced. Unlike Oregon’s second-look legislation, which does not allow killers who committed “aggravated murder” to be released, the Virginia second-look legislation would allow petitions for sentence reductions by inmates of all kinds, including serial killers, child-killers, and cop-killers. Continue reading
by Hans Spader
Students vary widely in intelligence and willingness to work hard. Why would anyone expect “equal outcomes for every student, without exception”? But that’s what educational consultants paid for by Virginia’s largest school district expect. The consultants were hired by Fairfax County Public Schools, which have 180,000 students.
Their goal is to “produce equal outcomes for every student, without exception,” reports The College Fix:
Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools reportedly paid almost half a million dollars to a firm whose “Equity Imperative” is that all students’ academic performance result in equal outcomes. Documents obtained by Asra Nomani show the district paid $455,000 to Oakland, California’s Performance Fact to “analyze student data to identify trends and recommendations in support of the development of strategic goals,” among (many) other things. It also “facilitated” school board “work sessions/retreats” which allegedly were “focused on the development of the [district] strategic plan.”
The September 20, 2022 retreat was led by company CEO Mutiu Fagbayi. … A PowerPoint for the retreat titled “Equity-centered Strategic Planning” is, like many diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) documents, full of flowery, yet vacuous, academic lingo. It includes the typical comparison between equality (“resources and supports are distributed evenly, irrespective of individual needs or assets”) and equity (“incorporates the idea of need; distribution of resources and supports is purposefully unequal”)….Then there’s that “Equity Imperative” which is “equitable access to resources and opportunities that guarantee fair, just, and affirming experiences and produce equal outcomes for every student, without exception” (emphasis added).
Motor Vehicle Thefts in Virginia. Source: Crime in Virginia reports, 2017 through 2021.
by Hans Bader
Carjackings — especially carjackings by teens — have spiked in cities across the country over the past two years. NewsNation describes the “nationwide rise in carjackings”:
A pastor gunned down in a carjacking outside her home in Memphis. A thief runs up a driveway with a weapon drawn in New Orleans. An Atlanta mother of three, tossed out of her car and run over with it — all captured on her own Ring camera…Over the last two years, there has been a noticeable uptick in carjackings nationwide…
Chicago — a city with 40 cops on a carjacking task force —had more than 1,900 last year. That number is the most in the country and the most in the Windy City in decades…
And some of the perpetrators are shockingly young.
The pastor killed in Memphis was shot by a 15-year-old. In D.C, a 14-year-old was arrested for jacking six vehicles and trying to take a seventh.
by Hans Bader
Voting along party lines, a legislative committee in Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted 5-to-3 yesterday to kill a bill that would have allowed a large proportion of the state’s murderers to seek release from prison.
The bill, SB 378, would have allowed Virginia prison inmates to seek release from prison after 10 or 15 years if they hadn’t committed a specified “disciplinary offense” in the preceding five years, or if a soft-on-crime prosecutor or judge waived such “behavioral standards.” Progressives argued that the bill should be approved because everybody deserves a second chance. Conservatives opposed the bill, saying that it would increase the crime rate and reopen old wounds for crime victims. The Democratic-controlled state senate had passed the bill on February 15. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Supporters of releasing criminals from prison make misleading claims. They say criminals age out of crime, and usually don’t return to crime after being released from prison. But a recent report of the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows how misleading these claims are, chronicling how most violent offenders return to violent crime after being released.
On February 10, the Commission issued a 116-page report titled “Recidivism of Federal Violent Offenders Released in 2010.” Over an eight-year period, violent offenders returned to violent crime at a 63.8% rate. The median time to rearrest was 16 months for these violent offenders. So, most violent offenders released from prison committed more violent crimes. Even among those offenders over age 60, 25.1% of violent offenders were rearrested for violent crimes.
Supporters of cutting sentences for violent offenders claim otherwise, even advocating that serial killers be eligible for release after 10 or 15 years. The ACLU of Virginia claims that “most people ‘age out’ of crime. By the time a person has been incarcerated for 10-15 years … they have matured significantly” and likely are safe to release. Similarly, the Virginia Grassroots Coalition claims that keeping violent offenders in prison for many years doesn’t “make us safer” because “violent crime is strongly correlated with youth.” And Families Against Mandatory Minimums claims that “long sentences” are not “necessary to keep us safe.” Continue reading
by Hans Bader
The District of Columbia has a violent crime rate that is five times Virginia’s. In 2018, the violent crime rate was 995.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in Washington, D.C., compared to only 200 per 100,000 in Virginia.
Yet some politicians want to make Virginia more like the District of Columbia. A bipartisan bill would give Virginia a more extreme version of one of Washington D.C.’s most controversial pro-crime policies: “second look” legislation. A second-look law lets judges cut sentences for criminals, or release them, after they have served 10 or 15 years — no matter how serious the crime they committed. Even if a criminal has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering several people, he can be let out after 10 or 15 years if he files a petition seeking release, and convinces the judge that he has been rehabilitated.
The Virginia bill would let inmates who have committed even the most violent crimes such as murder seek release after ten years in prison if they committed the crime before age 25, or after 15 years in prison if they committed their crime after turning 25. By contrast, Washington, D.C.’s law allows only people who committed their crimes at under age 25 to seek release, after they have served 15 years in prison. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
State Senator Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, has proposed legislation to make parole available to even the most violent offenders, including those who were given shorter sentences due to the lack of existence of parole at the time they were sentenced. The proposal includes a bill to make parole available to all types of offenders at all ages (SB 112), a bill to make parole available to all offenders who committed crimes as juveniles (SB 110), and a bill to make parole available for people who committed crimes before age 21 (SB 109).
Legislation making parole available to offenders of all ages was proposed but not approved in 2021. It might pass the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate this year, but is very likely to die in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. So SB 112 is likely to die.
Senator Morrissey’s other bills, aimed at paroling more youthful offenders, have better prospects for passage, but still have a good chance of being defeated. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
My school system in Arlington County is needlessly closing today. Supposedly, the reason is the “weather,” but the school system admits that actually, “the primary and neighborhood roads in Arlington are clear and our schools are ready.” Why then, are they closing? Because some teachers have kids, and some of those teachers complain they are having difficulty finding decent childcare options for those kids! As the lawyer Clark Neily notes, “they’re going to go ahead and pass that inconvenience on to us — while billing us for the privilege, of course.”
This is the same school system that is considering getting rid of grades on homework and allowing constant lateness and retakes on work. The school system claims that is about promoting “equity,” but eliminating grading also reduces work for the teachers, which may be something their union wants (on the other hand, allowing retakes is probably something teachers don’t want).
As I explain at this link, abolishing grades for homework will result in students studying less and learning less. The Arlington school board can be reached by email (at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Below is the Arlington Public Schools school closure notice: Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Students learn less if they don’t do their homework. And many of them won’t do their homework if they aren’t graded on it. But in the name of “equity,” the Arlington County Public Schools are likely to abolish grades for homework, which will result in students studying and learning less. Arlington is also considering letting students have “unlimited redoes and retakes on” assignments they fail, reports ABC Channel 7.
The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews discusses these proposed changes in his column, “Abolishing grades on homework will hurt the neediest kids”: Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Schools are teaching critical race theory, even as liberal education reporters deny it is taught anywhere, and falsely claim it is not taught in even a single school system.
Detroit’s school superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, says critical race theory is deeply embedded in his school system: “Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory, especially in social studies, but you’ll find it in English language arts and the other disciplines. We were very intentional about … embedding critical race theory within our curriculum.”
His school district is not alone. Twenty percent of urban school teachers have discussed or taught critical race theory with K-12 students, as have 8 % of teachers nationally, according to an Education Week survey. The Seattle public schools employed a critical race theorist as part of the district’s efforts to embed the theory in elementary schools.
“Unequivocally, critical race theory is taught in K-12 public schools,” said the Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher, noting he wrote a research paper detailing numerous instances of school districts openly using the phrase “critical race theory” in curriculum plans. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, was hit with a campaign finance complaint on Friday over a $350,000 donation he received from a foreign-owned company linked to overseas money laundering probe.
The National Legal and Policy Center requested that the FEC “promptly investigate” whether the donation to McAuliffe violated federal statutes prohibiting political campaigns from accepting donations from foreign nationals.
“Terry McAuliffe has a history of accepting foreign contributions. The FEC must fully investigate these serious charges that he accepted $350,000 in illegal foreign contributions for his current campaign,” said NLPC lawyer Paul Kamenar.
LycaTel LLC gave McAuliffe $350,000 in July. The company is a New Jersey subsidiary of a Sri Lankan national’s England-based telecom conglomerate, which has been the subject of fraud and money-laundering charges in France. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) suggested a spike in murders in Richmond is due to the coronavirus. But it isn’t.
VCU Medical trauma surgeon Michael Aboutanos said VCU is experiencing a 121% increase in gunshot-wound victims from across the Richmond metropolitan area. In response, Senator Warner cited the effects of COVID-19, the “frustration of people not being able to get back into the community, the frustration with schools being shut down. But 120 percent increase, month over month over last year? If that doesn’t scream epidemic, I don’t know what does.”
But the coronavirus epidemic affected the whole world and shut down schools and community institutions in many countries. Yet the United States was almost alone in having a huge increase in homicides. Most of the world saw reductions in homicide rates in 2020. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Senator Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, predicts that Virginia’s senate will vote to bring back parole in 2022 — “across the board,” meaning for even the most serious crimes, such as murder. Restoring parole could increase the number of murders, rapes, and robberies in Virginia. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:
A movement to reinstate parole in Virginia could hinge on the outcome of election results next month. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe has indicated willingness to support expanded parole …. While many Democrats support reinstating parole broadly in Virginia, Republicans generally oppose it. The Democrats hold a 55-45 seat edge in the House of Delegates. … The issue will be debated in next year’s General Assembly session.
“I will be introducing a bill that will reintroduce parole across the board,” said Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond. “I think it will pass [the] Senate Judiciary [Committee] and … the full body.” Democrats control the Senate 21-19. Senators are not up for election until 2023. But Morrissey said he predicts a possible roadblock to parole expansion in the House, where he thinks Republicans will make gains in the Nov. 2 election. … Virginia created parole in 1942 and abolished it in 1995, passing a “truth in sentencing” law among other criminal justice measures in an effort to reduce high crime rates…. Continue reading