Virginia’s Parole Board Is a Detestable Disgrace

by Kerry Dougherty

Well, bless The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

They’re doing real journalism up there in the capital and it’s infuriating to Democratic power brokers.

They’ve got to keep their stories straight now. Not easy.

Yes, over the weekend the TD published two stunning pieces about the curious behavior of  Virginia’s all-Democrat Parole Board, a group apparently dedicated to tossing Virginia’s most violent criminals back into the community without notifying victims or their survivors.

What began with an investigation into the Parole Board’s insane release of a cop killer has spread to at least eight other cases where murderers were freed in the past year. It appears the board ignored rules in its breathless hurry to get these vicious convicts back on the street.

Take the case of Hugh Joseph Brown, for instance. It’s hard to imagine a more depraved crime than his. I can’t find the adjectives for what this killer did in 1992, so I’ll let the TD tell you:

“Gwendolyn “Angel” Thomas was just 17 and four months pregnant with the child of Hugh Joseph Brown, 27, when he fatally shot her in York County in 1992 and set her body on fire. In his confession, Brown said he was afraid he would shame his family by having a child out of wedlock. He had sex with her before he killed her, and testified that her last words were that she loved him.

“He received a life sentence in 1993.”

Yep, it appears the Parole Board not only freed Brown last April — two weeks after deciding to keep him behind bars — but the board turned off victim notifications in the case, to keep Ms. Thomas’ surrogate grandmother, Esther Brown, the family’s representative,  in the dark about what was transpiring.

Oh, and the alleged maestro of this episode was then-Parole Board Chair Adrianne Bennett. She was promoted to a judgeship in Virginia Beach’s juvenile court last year.

According to emails obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, (Esther) Brown did not receive an automated notification about the March decision to deny parole because Adrianne Bennett, then the chairwoman of the parole board and now a judge in Virginia Beach, asked others to block notifications to Esther Brown while the parole board in April reconsidered the case.

Bennett said through a lawyer for this story that notifications were turned off because the board reconsidered its vote and didn’t want to provide conflicting information to a victim’s relative, and that the case was handled properly.

Bennett’s lawyer told the TD that everything that happened was perfectly legal. He said that although Brown’s denial of parole was reported on the Parole Board website in March 2020, it was not official and the board decided to reconsider two weeks later when “advocates” for the murderer appeared.


Seriously, what new information could advocates present that would persuade sane people that a convict who murdered a woman who was pregnant with his child and set their bodies on fire was fit to rejoin society?

Virginia’s Parole Board is despicable. Instead of expressing horror over the behavior of the board in this and other murderer-on-the-loose cases, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration is pointing fingers at the whistleblower and claiming the scandal is being driven by politics.

Keeping violent criminals behind bars to serve the entirety of their life sentences should not be a Republican or Democratic issue.

Some crimes are so execrable that the criminal — upon his or her conviction — should forfeit the right to EVER rejoin society.

Fire board members now and replace them with competent individuals, Governor.

You know, decent people with common sense who care more about public safety than sob stories from killers.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.