Virginia House Passes Bill to Make Parole Release More Difficult

by Tyler Arnold


Legislation that would make parole release for inmates more difficult passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Friday.

House Bill 435, sponsored by Del. Thomas Wright, R-Victoria, passed the chamber on strict partisan lines 52-48. The legislation was supported by the chamber’s Republicans and opposed by its Democrats.

Under the proposed legislation, an inmate could only be released upon a unanimous decision by the parole board. Also, if a person is denied parole when he is first eligible, he could only be reviewed once every three years, unless there are fewer than 10 years left on his sentence, in which case he would be eligible for review every year. The current rule makes everyone eligible for review annually.

The law would also require the board to review the trial transcript for the trial that led to his conviction.

Del. Mark Sickles, D-Franconia, noted that Wright introduced the bill after concerns were brought up by one of his constituents, which he said he could sympathize with, but said the proposal needs some work.

“I can sympathize with the idea, but I wish there had been, like, coming from a broader study review or people who had looked at this,” Sickles said.

Sickles specifically said he wanted more information on whether it’s necessary to force an inmate to wait another three years for release if the inmate can demonstrate to the board that he is no longer a threat to society.

The legislation will now head to the Senate, which has narrow Democratic control.

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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.




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