Update: Geriatric Prison Release Bill Advances

The Virginia Senate has voted 21-to-19 to make prison inmates (including many murderers) eligible for “geriatric release” as early as age 50. The vote was largely along party lines, with all Democrats except Lynwood Lewis voting for the bill, and all Republicans except Emmett Hanger voting against it.

SB 624 effectively reinstates parole for many long-time inmates. Parole was largely abolished by the Virginia legislature back in 1995. The bill also guts Virginia’s three strikes law, which previously required life without parole for offenders convicted of three separate murders, rapes, or robberies, or any combination of the three. Restrictions on parole reflected the fact that murderers sometimes kill again after being released.

SB 624 would let inmates seek release at age 50 if they have served 20 years, or age 55 if they’ve served 15. Previously, the minimum age for geriatric release was 60. The murder rate is much higher among people in their 50s than in their 60s, and a larger share of famous serial killers were active in their 50s than in their 60s. For example, John Reginald Christie, Dorothea Puente, and Albert Fish all started killing in their 50s.

Inmates would not be eligible for geriatric release under the bill if they committed a “Class 1 felony.” But even most premeditated murders are not Class 1 felonies, which include only a narrow range of killings, such as murders of cops or young children. In Virginia, “First-degree murder is classified as a Class 2 felony,” notes a web site about state laws.

Dictionaries define “geriatric” as meaning elderly, and elderly as starting at age 60 or 65. People in their 50s are defined as middle-aged.

I previously discussed arguments for the bill at this link.

— Hans Bader

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12 responses to “Update: Geriatric Prison Release Bill Advances

  1. This bothers me less than it does Bader (and perhaps Bacon….). But it does answer somewhat Dick’s premature claim yesterday that no substantial changes were coming. This is substantial change. I do not expect the state to be releasing any serial killers.

    • In my defense, I specified in my post that the members were pausing on “systemic” changes. I don’t regard adding new criteria for geriatric release as a “systemic” change.

  2. Then if anything happens to someone, the legislators who are accessories to the fact need to be charged that way – as accessories to crime.

    • If you think prisons are expensive now, wait until the guards are all unionized, many go on disability early with some disease their work is “presumed” to have caused or they claim PTSD, the inmates are paid $15 minimum wage and are also eligible for workers comp (I kid you not, that bill was put in), and the Department of Corrections has so many employee discrimination lawsuits that its legal costs double. Then there are medical costs and energy costs. “Lock ’em up for life” is a great slogan, but there is a bill which is rising under this new regime.

      • DOC has a major problem now with many correctional officers abusing the short-term disability program, often by claiming “stress”. I have long said that stress is part of the job of being a correctional officer and if one cannot handle the stress, he should not be a correctional officer. Apparently, the folks hired by VRS to administer the short-term disability program disagree. The result is an empty post while some officer is off recovering from stress. That post has to be covered by another officer working overtime.

      • Relax. Nothing is going to happen that can’t be fixed by a hefty tax increase…

  3. Now, for my main reply to the post. The examples given are pure scare tactic. Serial killers are not going to be released by the Parole Board. People who kill in their 50s and 60s will not be eligible for consideration for parole under this bill until they are in their 70s and 80s.

    “Geriatric” is just a shorthand description of the provision. That term is not used in the Code. The statute refers to “conditional release” based on age and time served. Because of their general health when they enter prison combined with the stresses of incarceration, inmates “age” faster. Corrections medical professionals regard the age 55 as “geriatric” for inmates.

    Here is another, more likely, scenario to consider: A young man foolishly agrees to drive the car for a friend who is going to hold up a convenience store. Something goes wrong and his friend inside the store shoots and kills the store clerk. Although he did not intend for anyone to be shot, he did not do the shooting, he was not even in the store, but outside, this young man is an accessory to a murder and gets, perhaps, a sentence of life (the maximum penalty for murder committed during an armed robbery). While in prison, he does not cause any trouble and he participates in programs, gets his GED and acquires other skills. At the age of 50, after serving more than 20 years (the minimum sentence for murder in an armed robbery), I think he deserves another chance, if the Parole Board does not think he would pose a threat to society. What is the value to society in keeping him incarcerated?

  4. Don’t ya just love this one, unbelievable. “Corrections medical professionals regard the age 55 as “geriatric” for inmates.”

    Here we got a bad and getting worse case of hyper active bureaucrat busy bodies and their craven so called experts in alliance with crony leftist politicians in Virginia, searching for ever more ways to screw up their own toxic pot, by changing the meaning of words, so as to defy, and turn on its head, nature. Godlike, these clowns with the stroke of a pen fast forward God’s biological clock, declaring 21st century middle aged criminals to be “Geriatric.”

    So what gonna happen next?

    Well, by golly, next the clown show will be transferring all of Virginia’s criminals out of Virginia’s jails into their very own 50+ assisted living lakeside communities at taxpayer expense.

    This leftist regime that’s conquered Richmond is not only outside of all control known to man, to God, and/or to nature, it’s now spinning wildly into madness.

    • I am not sure how “God’s biological clock” defines elderly. The life expectancy in the U.S. was 37. Are we now violating “God’s biological clock”?

      The idea that the age of 55 is considered “elderly” for inmates is not new and is not an invention of the “leftist regime in Richmond”. At least 10 years ago, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care defined 55 in prison as “elderly”. 15 states used 50 years of age as a cutoff and 5 states used 55. See: https://www.vera.org/downloads/Publications/its-about-time-aging-prisoners-increasing-costs-and-geriatric-release/legacy_downloads/Its-about-time-aging-prisoners-increasing-costs-and-geriatric-release.pdf

      • Dick, hate to break the news, but the tyrannical rule of the experts, and their out of control, unaccountable, and most always wrong managerial class is the coming to a definitive end after their 70 years rampage reeking damage throughout the nation.

        My favorite example is the Northern Virginia Traffic Experts. These guys were paid into hundreds of millions of dollars to issue thousands upon thousands of unintelligible studies on most every project built in Northern Virginia, mostly in Fairfax, over two generations, while in the process they created one of the world’s greatest and most intractable traffic monsters that now will take generations to unwind.

        Of course the list of expert malpractice over these 70 years is endless, ranging across most all disciplines, whether they be transportation, education, wars on poverty, community organizing or whatever. The record of this alliance of the leviathan state, crony experts, crony intellectuals, and crony capitalists is dismal. Costs soar along with dysfunction, leaving regions, cultures, and societies in tatters. After all this money, all this disruption, all this aggravation, all this ruination of cultures and institutions, finally at long last the jig is up.

        We’ve turned around from the dead end street this concoction of fools has lead us into.

        And it appears now we will never look back, as we race headlong into a new and ever brighter Dawn. America is back!

        • Well, if you are going to reject all the findings of scientists, doctors, and other experts from the past 70 years, that does not leave much ground for discussion.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            I am not rejecting it, an ever growing segment of the US government, private industry and the academy itself is rejecting junk research, as today a growing majority of it cannot be replicated. It’s is crisis, Dick, growing like student loan debacle. Do a little research on the subject.

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