Governor Terry McAuliffe has replaced the chair of the Virginia Parole Board in hopes of increasing the number of people released on parole. The Valley Justice Coalition celebrates this change, as we have been advocating for release of these prisoners for some time.
Parole was abolished in Virginia in 1995, but there remain 2,765 inmates in Virginia prisons were eligible for parole who were sentenced before that time. The Commonwealth of Virginia pays more than $77 million each year to continue incarcerating parole-eligible inmates.
Adrianne Bennett, a lawyer from Hampton Roads who was already a member of the parole board, is now the chair. Jean W. Cunningham has also been added to the board, as Karen Brown departs. McAuliffe was quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on his motivation for the change, saying “I want to make sure that we are moving expeditiously on these parole hearings.”
For more on the recent changes to the parole board, see Patrick Wilson “McAuliffe replaces parole board chairwoman in effort to speed reforms” Richmond Times-Dispatch.