Virginia Democrats Are Stuck with the Parole Board Scandal

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like someone’s trying to defuse what’s going to be a red hot campaign issue this fall:

Public safety.

Gov. Ralph Northam yesterday boasted that Virginia had one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country. He claimed that only 24% of the commonwealth’s convicts reoffend within four years of release.

That is good news, but not for the reasons the governor cited.

Here’s Northam’s statement, accordion to CBS:

“Our success is the direct result of effective reentry programs and strong partnerships across our Commonwealth. I remain grateful to the hardworking professionals at the Virginia Department of Corrections who are dedicated to rehabilitation, transforming lives, and building safer communities.”

Notice the governor gives absolutely no credit to Virginia’s tough-on-crime “no parole” law passed in 1995 as part of former Gov. George Allen’s Truth in Sentencing initiative.

Then again, how could he when Democrats are doing their best to dismantle that enormously successful policy?

The absence of parole may be a bigger factor than prison programs in holding down recidivism. Think about it: There is a strong correlation between age and crime. The older a person becomes, the less likely he or she is to be involved in criminal acts.

Allen’s policy, which Richmond Democrats on the parole board undermined in the past year, means that when a criminal is sentenced to a hefty prison term he (and let’s face it, we’re talking about males) will serve almost the entire sentence, with a little time shaved off for good behavior.

As a result, many of Virginia’s violent criminals spend their prime crime-committing years behind bars.

As the parole board scandal continues to unfold in Richmond — despite efforts by the Northam administration to bury it — public safety is thrust into the news. Democrats must realize that the premature release of murderers and other violent criminals — some serving life sentences — by a parole board hand-picked by Terry McAuliffe and Northam is going to hurt the party in November.

Northam’s trying to get ahead of that now.

Nice try.