Virginia’s Soft-on-Crime Parole Board Releasing Another Killer

by Kerry Dougherty

Perfect timing. Just as Terry McAuliffe is set to announce another run for governor, Virginia’s pathetic parole board, full of Governor Ralph Northam’s and McAuliffe’s soft-on-crime appointees, is releasing a strangler.

This one is a real sweetheart.

On May 15, 1988 Gregory Joyner murdered 15-year-old Sarah Jamison after attempting to rape the Lynchburg teenager. He buried her in a shallow grave near her parents’ home where she was unearthed a couple of weeks later.

According to news reports, Joyner confessed to killing the girl, but said sex between the two was consensual. In June of 1989 he was sentenced to life plus 10 years for his grotesque crimes. According to an April 6, 1989 story in the Staunton News-Leader, prosecutors initially planned to charge him with capital murder, but couldn’t prove rape.

Now, just 31 years later, the 48-year-old murderer is set to be freed. According to news reports, the board in 2017 and 2019 refused to release him, citing Joyner’s “extensive criminal record,” a “history of violence,” and “the serious nature and circumstances of his offense.” Releasing Joyner would “diminish the seriousness of the crime” of which he was convicted, the board concluded.

That was then. This is now.

In a sudden about-face, the five-member parole board decided in November that it was time to turn Joyner loose from the Augusta Correctional Center.

Remember when Democrats claimed to care about women?

The board, which is required to release its list of parole decisions monthly, has not yet published Joyner’s name.

It was Lynchburg’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Bethany Harrison, who raised the alarm yesterday after she was notified of the board’s decision. She released the following statement:

“My heart goes out to Sarah’s family, as they have been forced into a lifetime of reliving the pain and trauma that Gregory Joyner caused them,” she said.

“They experienced the rigors of trial and were granted some relief at his conviction and sentence to life in prison. Now the family must experience a new trauma. That is knowing that at 48 years old, Joyner will once again be free to walk the streets of the Commonwealth while they will never enjoy the company of their loved one again.

“A life sentence should have given this family the closure they deserved. Instead, a wound has been reopened by the Virginia Parole Board. We will never know the reasons why the Virginia Parole Board granted Joyner parole as they are not required to give the public reasons for the release of a murderer. Given the multitude of problems victims of crime have suffered at the hands of this parole board this year, transparency and accountability are needed.”

Sarah’s family reacted angrily at the news and asked the governor to intervene to keep Joyner behind bars. Her father, Dell Jamison, spoke to WDBJ Channel 7 News:

“When Joyner murdered Sarah it was for life. Why should he be released after only serving a part of his life? His sentence was for punishment, not rehabilitation; therefore he still has 30 or 40 years left on his sentence. His release is a big mistake. He is also a registered sex offender. If he was sentenced today, he would never get out of prison.

 Joyner has not expressed remorse to my knowledge. When he was photographed going to trial for the murder and rape of Sarah, he smiled and said ‘get my good side.’ He needs to stay in prison for the good of the community.”

House Republican leader Todd Gilbert quickly issued a statement Tuesday reminding the public that Virginia’s inspector general just a few months ago found the parole board in violation of its own rules during its springtime freeing frenzy of convicted killers.

 “This Board has already been found to have violated both law and procedure in letting such killers walk free. They stand for the interests of violent criminals, not victims and their families. It has become increasingly clear that the Northam administration and the House Democratic caucus not only condone these actions but also intend to continue to help hide the illegal and unethical behavior of this Parole Board,” Gilbert said. “The best time for Governor Northam to have fired this board was when they released their first unrepentant killer. The second best time is right now.”

Gilbert’s right.

The entire parole board should be fired.

Joyner should stay in prison and the Jamison family should be given a sincere apology from the two men who appointed these dolts to the parole board.

This column was published with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.