by Kerry Dougherty
What do you do if you’re a soft-on-crime Democrat legislator in a no-parole commonwealth?
You get creative.
You find ways around the no-parole law that took effect back in the mid-1990s when Virginia was experiencing a crime wave similar to the one sweeping parts of the commonwealth now.
Democrats in the State Senate are once again trying to circumvent Virginia’s “Truth in Sentencing ” law. You see, it makes them sad to know that violent criminals now serve almost every day of their sentences.
“No fair,” they cry.
First, they elected Democrat governors who appointed self-described “bleeding heart” parole boards that found loopholes in the law that allowed them to spring murderers.
Then, when voters struck back by electing Republicans to top state offices, they began to introduce bills that circumvent the current law.
Meet SB842. The brainchild of Sen. Chap Petersen of Fairfax County.
This is a revision of last year’s so-called “second-look legislation” that would have allowed inmates who had served 15 years of lengthy sentences to ask the courts back home to reduce the remainder of their time. This stinker actually passed the Democratic State Senate, which just became even more left-leaning with yesterday’s flip of District 7 by State Sen.-Elect Aaron Rouse.
What kind of crimes result in lengthy sentences that would benefit from such a measure? Bad ones. You know, murders. Rapes. Kidnappings.
The 2022 bill was tabled in the GOP majority House, which acts as a firewall against the appalling ideas that emanate from the left-wing Senate.
According to a piece by attorney Hans Bader on baconsrebellion.com, SB842 is even worse than its predecessor. This bill would put serial killers, child killers and cop killers back on the streets without requiring evidence of good behavior in prison, he says.
Releasing offenders through “second-look sentencing” is worse than doing so by granting offenders parole, because second-look sentencing is less consistent and more arbitrary. Parole boards apply consistent standards to all offenders in a state, while second-look sentencing leaves decisions in the hands of countless different judges who have different philosophies about whether inmates should be released if they repent or behave while in prison.
“Second-look” laws are geographically discriminatory: Virginia’s “second-look” legislation would allow progressive prosecutors in places like Norfolk and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties to facilitate the release of offenders in their communities by supporting their petitions for release, and the progressive circuit judges in such places may well be sympathetic to such petitions. By contrast, very similar offenders in conservative counties would likely remain imprisoned, because conservative judges and prosecutors there will be likely to oppose such petitions. So criminals in progressive counties would get preferential treatment just because of where they were convicted.
If a Democratic majority is returned to the House of Delegates and Glenn Youngkin is replaced by a Democrat, this is what’s coming to Virginia.
You’ve been warned.
This column was first published in Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited and is republished with permission.