Governor McAuliffe Announces Parole Commission’s Final Report
~Commission Report Includes 23 Recommendations Addressing Criminal Justice Reforms~
In July, Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 44 and appointed a diverse, 27-member Commission on Parole Review to examine the 20-year-old policy that eliminated discretionary parole for persons convicted of felonies in Virginia. The Commission was co-chaired by former Attorney General Mark Earley, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney.
“I am pleased with the work of the Commission and the thoughtful approach they brought to a number of key concerns with respect to Virginia’s parole policy and our justice system as a whole,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I look forward to working with our partners in the Virginia General Assembly to support these initiatives that will enhance public safety and move our criminal justice system forward.”
The Commission presented 23 recommendations to Governor McAuliffe addressing complex issues that will enhance public safety and improve Virginia’s criminal justice system. Many recommendations focus on expanding access to behavioral health services, diverting appropriate offenders away from the criminal justice system, and reviewing mandatory minimum sentences, good-time credits, sentencing guidelines and relief for certain offenders.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to co-chair this Commission and re-visit the issue of parole in the Commonwealth, and our criminal justice system as a whole during our five meetings” General Earley said. “I want to thank Governor McAuliffe, the 27 members of the Commission and members of the public for their hard work and commitment to improving our system.”
Governor McAuliffe took immediate action on several recommendations by including funding in his budget to expand access to pre-trial services, mental health and substance abuse services, and re-entry programs. The Governor also proposed legislation that will provide relief for persons impacted by Fishback v. Commonwealth where juries were not informed that parole had been abolished.
“I want to thank Governor McAuliffe for his tremendous leadership in advancing a review of the no-parole laws including significant funding in his budget to support the Commission’s recommendations,” Secretary Moran said. “The Governor’s initiatives will not disturb the original intent of the law’s architects, but rather will ensure justice while improving public safety.”
“This report is the product of frank conversations that extended beyond the issue of parole and transformed into a discussion of whether our criminal justice system at-large has done enough to rehabilitate and restore lives” said Secretary Stoney. “I am pleased that our Commission was in full agreement that we cannot simply lock people up and throw away the key.”
The Commission’s full report can be found at https://parolecommission.virginia.gov/index.html.