Virginia Dems Loathe No-Parole Laws

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.


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Comments

15 responses to “Virginia Dems Loathe No-Parole Laws”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    So Kerry is setting the tone here. Let’s see how the comments go and how they get moderated.

  2. Crime is merely the reallocation of property, wealth, and life. People should not be punished for taking what they think they deserve. I agree that those who are persecuted by our system should be placed back among us to gather what they desire. What Me Worry?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Oh I think any/all SHOULD BE PUNISHED. NO question! THE “question” is for how long? All crime gets life without parole?

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        No. Convicted criminals receive what the statute requires as interpreted by a judge who has intimate knowledge of the crime that took place.

        If Democrats believe that the penalties are too harsh, they should revise the statutes.

        Why does the Commonwealth require a special “escape hatch” for criminals who were tried, convicted and sentences for serious crimes?

        And the idea that penalties will arbitrarily differ based on different judges is very real. There are sentencing guidelines. Will there be release guidelines?

        Doesn’t sound very consistent or fair to me.

        Chap Petersen is normally one of the most sensible GA members from either party. I’m surprised to see him taking on this losing proposition. I wonder why he is doing that.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          No Parole ever no matter the specific person or crime is unreasonable and unfair IMO and it leads to extreme proposals in the opposite direct direction in hopes that a compromise will result that is more reasonable than either extreme. When one side’s basic position is that compromise is “betrayal” of one’s beliefs, then we end up with more extreme stuff. There is a middle ground on this. We just seem to reject it out of hand.

        2. M. Purdy Avatar

          “Why does the Commonwealth require a special “escape hatch” for criminals who were tried, convicted and sentences for serious crimes?” You raise some good point, but “escape hatch” is not how I’d describe it. Think of it like this…the criminal justice system has three underlying principles: punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Mandatory sentences and no parole speak to the first two items, but ignore the third. So it’s less of an escape hatch, and more of a “show me you’re ready and capable of reentering society” type of policy. The folks who can take advantage of it have done real time and have to have a spotless records in prison.

          1. Doesn’t say anything about a spotless record, only asks for “petitioner’s disciplinary record while incarcerated.”

            Also, it does say, “Failure of the attorney for the Commonwealth to make reasonable efforts to notify any victim shall not preclude the court from considering the petition.”

            https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?231+ful+SB842

          2. M. Purdy Avatar

            Yeah, I looked at the 2022 bill, not 2023. Not sure why that changed. Seems like a good provision to keep in. https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+ful+SB378

      2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        Is that possible hyperbole, Larry.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          nope.

  3. I just read the Bill.

    In it’s current form I give it a ‘Hard No’.

  4. “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. (emphasis mine)

    To be fair, such legislation would also allow conservative prosecutors to facilitate the release of offenders in their communities…

    😉

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      If only we were able to acquire non-partisan prosecutors who utilized the law and the law alone in their opinions.

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Rather than rely on Hans Bader, Kerry should actually read the bills she is commenting on. Rather than authorizing release

    “without requiring evidence of good behavior,” the bill explicitly directs the judge to consider, among other factors, ” the history and characteristics of the petitioner at the time of the hearing, including rehabilitation demonstrated by the petitioner, the petitioner’s disciplinary record while incarcerated, and the
    petitioner’s efforts to participate in any educational or therapeutic programs.”

    As for Democrats being so anxious to parole murderers, a long-time Republican appointed by a Republican governor to head the Parole Board once related to me how he personally had traveled to a prison to tell an offender convicted of murder that he had been granted parole.

  6. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Interesting that in todays Jason Riley column (WSJ) a NYPD official describes how 323 career criminals were responsible for 30% of 22,00 shoplifting arrests in 2022. Yet the so called criminal justice system allows them to roam at will.

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