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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recent Complaint Got Results (see 10/24 blog)

Now fully approved
Remember the October 24 blog registering our complaint about the insurance regulations regarding our wood stove? After notifying our insurance company about the blog post on Monday, I got both a phone message and the following email today:

Hi Harvey,

I just got word back from ________’s underwriting department. Good news!  The stove and clearances are approved. They went ahead and added the wood stove to your policy and an endorsement is being issued. This will include a $35 annual wood stove charge that will be billed.

I’m glad we were able to get this done. Thanks for your help!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tithes and Taxes: Very Modest Forms Of Rent

Created for lease to responsible tenants
"Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater."

Luke 12:48b (TLB)

In the Hebrew Bible, a tithe (10%) of ones produce or income was to be set aside for the support God’s work and for the benefit of the poor (Leviticus 27:30, 32). The New Testament does not explicitly mandate a tithe, but promotes generous giving of the kind that helps bring about equality.

It would be hard to justify any North American Christians giving less than a tithe in light of how blessed we are in comparison to the majority of the world's people. Ten percent should be considered a most reasonable form of “rent” for the privilege of living on the most hospitable planet imaginable.

Think of all the benefits: endless beauty and enough food, water and fresh air for all (providing we take proper care of the earth), along with the priceless gift of life itself. This is to say nothing of countless other examples of pure, unmerited grace and non-physical blessings.

But what about taxes? We could also think of them as a modest and reasonable “rent” we gladly pay for living in a country that offers so many benefits and services we could never provide for ourselves.

For example, we have roads, schools, a postal system, police protection, and health care for the elderly and most needy, plus a host of other blessings we regularly take for granted. Of course we can always find examples of waste and misuse of tax dollars that need to be addressed, but instead of complaining (or considering taxes to be an unwarranted form of "theft") we should seek to correct problems and to be grateful for the fantastic bargain we get for these “rent payments”.

Lest we be guilty of a serious case of “Gratitude Deficit Disorder”.

You might also want to read  "Christmas Economics:How Both Pentateuch and Pentecost Promote Wealth Redistribution"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are You Smarter Than a Third Grader?

My oldest grandson John, age 8, made up the following math puzzler for me to work on during our recent visit. I did manage to solve it after working on it for awhile, but found it a challenge.

Here are his clues:

1. The correct answer is larger than 999, but less than 10,000.

2. The sum of the all the numbers, added together, is 16.

3. Multiply the last two digits and you get a "0".

4. The second digit, minus 3, is the correct number for the third digit.

5. The first digit is 1.

If you can figure out the answer to this third grader's puzzler, post it below in the comment section, and I'll confirm it here in a couple of days!

P.S. Monday, October 28: Congratulations to two friends from New York state who responded via comments (below) along with Brad Yoder, Chad Heatwole, Clint Yoder, Janice Miller, Brad Lehman, Elizabeth Vredevelt, Rosemary Hunsberger, Dale Gingrich and Lester Blank for submitting the correct answer, 1960. This means you are at least as smart as a third grader!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Reasoned Reaction to Irrational Regulations

If you think government regulations are bad, insurance industry regs can be pretty frustrating, too.

Take the case of the new Jøtul (pronounced Yodel) wood stove I installed last winter, replacing the Shenandoah we owned for a decade prior. A few weeks ago a nice inspector representing our home owners insurance came by to check to make sure the installation of this Norwegian-made heater met industry standards.

Let me be clear, I'm all for going the second mile to avoid even the remotest danger of having a house fire. After all, this is our home, and contains most of our earthly belongings.

But here are the issues I've been told need to be addressed:

1) The stove pipe needs to be six inches from the brick behind it instead of two inches. I would totally agree if this were a flammable wall, but this is solid brick against a solid concrete block basement wall (I know, because I laid up the brick myself). What kind of fire hazard does that represent?

2) The stove also needs a heat shield under it, I'm told, or we must buy an expensive fire proof mat. Our stove has an ash pan compartment underneath and is "mobile home approved", so it might pass. But again, for whatever it's worth, this highly efficient unit is on a solid brick hearth on a poured concrete floor. Could that possibly be a fire hazard?

Or am I the one being irrational?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Massanutten Lodge Celebrates Ten Years as a B & B

Guy and Margie Vlasits, hosts of the Old Massanutten Lodge Bed and Breakfast are members of our house church and are among our favorite people. 

Their home, the former Massanutten Caverns Lodge near Keezletown, in the shadow of Massanutten Peak, will be the site of a special story-telling event and concert this Saturday, October 26, that you won't want to miss!

Here is the schedule:

OPEN HOUSE: 1-5 PM

*Tours of the lodge
* Wander the grounds
* Variety of food truck vendors: Couldn't be better!
* Variety of Local Keezletown musicians: Terrific!
* Bonfire to roast marshmallows
* Stories told and recorded: Bring your stories and memories of your visits to this historic community center, first opened in 1925, and meet and greet new and old friends!

SPECIAL CONCERT: 7 PM $10 at the door

* Local musicians & storytellers: Mack & Joan Swift, Eve Watters, Connie Muscenti, Colin Ramirez, Lili Gill, Jim Harrington, Mel Lee, and Bill Painter.

*We are reviving the Folk Arts Revival Society Halloween Concert, serving spooky punch and homemade refreshments.

CONTACT:
      Margie & Guy Vlasits
Old Massanutten Lodge B&B
3448 Caverns Drive
Keezletown, VA  22832

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ten Things You Can Do For Your Country (A Repost)

greatbigcanvas.com
In times like these, here’s the kind of speech I would love to hear from politicians, teachers, presidents and preachers everywhere:

My fellow Americans, the only way a country can become truly great is for its citizens to become truly good. So in the spirit of John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you...” here are ten good things you can do for your country:

1. Become friends with people who are different from you. Respectfully share good things from the diversity of your cultures, traditions and faith convictions.

2. Be generous with your neighbors in need. Government programs must do their part, but each of us needs to volunteer more of our time and resources to help those less fortunate across the street and around the world.

3. Live a life of honesty and integrity. Show up on time at your work or school every day. Do your share and more. Never defraud your workers, employers, government agencies, insurance companies, or any other persons or institutions.

4. Obey all legitimate laws, and work to change unjust ones. Be law abiding not just for fear of being caught but simply because of who you are and the good example you want to set.

5. Respect all life from the womb to the tomb. Honor the unborn, and help spare the already born from the ravages of abuse, hunger, disease, war and poverty.

6. Save lovemaking for the married love of your life. Be faithful to your spouse, and take responsibility to bring up children in loving, stable and nurturing environments.

7. Take special care of the planet’s soil, air and water. Reduce wasteful consumption by reusing and enjoying more of what you already have, recycling everything you can, and by relying less on forms of  energy that pollute the atmosphere and waste scarce resources.

8. Don’t harm your body with tobacco, illegal drugs, or other harmful substances. Take personal responsibility for your health by eating right, exercising every day and maintaining a good level of emotional and spiritual well-being.

9. Honor your parents, grandparents and all aging and dependent persons. Care for them as you would want to be cared for yourself.

10. Avoid entertainment media that promote pornography, denigrate women, and glorify violence--and make sure to protect children from their destructive influences. Spend less time with TV, movies, video games and the Internet and more time in wholesome interactions with real people.

With God’s help, we could truly make ours a great country and the whole world a better neighborhood. In the process we could save billions in law enforcement and court expenses, in health care costs, and in prison and social service programs.

Best of all, none of the above would require special legislation or more tax dollars, only more personal responsibility by people like you and me.

Reposted July 11, 2011 blog.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Subversive Submission: A Non-Violent Response to Power

A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
Luke 22:24-26 (NIV)
Our house church is currently studying the New Testament book of I Peter, a letter written to scattered and persecuted congregations around the year 64.

Peter, one of Jesus' closest friends and followers, is often associated with cowardice and denial, but he was actually the only disciple of Jesus prepared to defend him with force. When Jesus reproved him for doing so, Peter withdrew in a state of confusion and bewilderment, broken hearted at having his hopes for a triumphal, messianic outcome dashed.

Caravaggio's "Crucifixion of Peter"
According to Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost Peter emerges as the primary spokesperson and courageous leader of the non-violent Christian movement. And in the end, tradition has it that he was crucified upside down, as he didn't feel worthy to die in the same way as his Lord.

In chapters 2 and 3 of his first letter to persecuted and scattered believers, Peter describes how the crucified, self-sacrificing Jesus is the basis for a radically non-violent response to those in positions of power. He fully reflects the radical teaching of Jesus that in the new, heaven-headquartered reign of God, those who would be the greatest must become servants of all. The first are last and the last first in this upside-down kingdom, with all of its citizens on a level playing field.

Here are his major points:

Subjects are to live as free men and women (2:16). Peter exhorts believers to submit to rulers, but not because they are inferior to them, but because they are subject to a far higher authority than any of the temporary powers God has ordained (2:13-14). Christians are also to show "honor" to heads of state (even to Nero, the current Caesar), but they are to show that same kind of respect to everyone (2:17-18).

Without a doubt, a rapidly growing number of Christians practicing this kind of "subversive submission" (declaring "Jesus is Lord!" rather than the obligatory pledge of "Caesar is Lord") undoubtedly contributed to the eventual fall of the empire.

Slaves who suffer unjustly are rewarded by God for doing so (2:18-21). Here again they are not defined by, or limited to, their temporary servant status, but are to behave honorably by choice, as a demonstration of their calling to imitate the suffering Prince of Peace. Peter goes to great length to describe how Christ willingly offered himself up for us as an expression of God's unconditional love for all (2:22-25).

"In the same way..." Peter then goes on to say,

Wives' submission to husbands is no longer based on their having inferior status. It would have never occurred to most people in the first century that women should have to be taught to submit to their husband's authority. They were, after all, considered property up to this time, and had virtually no power or say in their homes or communities, period. But here they are asked to voluntarily live in such an honorable and empowered way as to "win over" even their unbelieving husbands. And they were to do this without a trace of fear or intimidation (3:1-6).

"In the same way..." Peter repeats,

Christian husbands are to honor their wives as they are to honor everyone, including the emperor. A form of the same Greek word for honor (τιμᾶτε) is used in each case, which means that husbands are to respect their wives as "co-heirs with them of the grace of life" (3:7). To fail to do so is to risk having God turn a deaf ear to their prayers.

To me, all of this is truly revolutionary, and far, far ahead of its time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"I was in prison, and you wrote to me"

Virginia Public Radio photo
 "Remember those in prison as if you were also in bonds, and those who suffer as though you were suffering with them." 
Hebrews 13:2

It's hard to imagine the sense of isolation and abandonment many feel in our prisons. When I visited someone recently at the Augusta Correctional Center, he told me this was his first and only visit since being transferred there 18 months earlier, and that he's gotten virtually no mail except my letters. His mother and other family members have all turned their backs on him, leaving him desolated and devastated.

Today I am posting the names of some remarkable people like him who would love to receive a card, letter or almost any kind of communication from someone on the outside. Check the Department of Corrections guidelines, then send your letter, articles, photocopies, etc., (total of one ounce or less) to one or more of the following persons (or to one or more other inmates you may know), and I assure you it will make their day:

Mr. James E. Bender #1010837 (special concerns: general prison reform)
Greensville Correctional Center
901 Corrections Way
Jarratt, VA 23870-6914

Mr. Bulue Berry #1415952 (special concerns: successful return to the area in a year)
Lunenburg Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1424
Victoria, VA 23974

Mr. Stephano Colosi #1037581 (special concerns: geriatric release for aging prisoners)
Buckingham Correctional Center
P. O. Box 430
Dillwyn, VA 23936-0430

M. Steven W. Goodman #1028377 (special concerns: legal research on restoration of parole)
Buckingham Correctional Center
P. O. Box 430
Dillwyn, VA 23936-0430

Mr. A. Jefferson Grissette #1143033 (special concerns: plea bargain and photo line-up reforms)
St. Brides Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 16482
Chesapeake, VA 23328

Note: If for whatever reason you prefer not to include your return address with your letter, have the person respond to me and I'll relay their message to you (assuming I have your contact information). In my 50-plus years of corresponding with individuals in prison I have never had any problems due to disclosing my address, but some people do recommend against it.

Click here for other posts on prison reform.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Quiet and Remarkable Life: "I have never seen her angry or disrespectful"

Esther Yoder 1938-2013
The Esther in the Bible is a beautiful young woman who becomes a highly esteemed queen. My 85-year-old sister Esther, whose memorial service was held Thursday at the Bethel Mennonite Church near Rustburg, brought her own kind of royalty into the home in which I grew up.

Unfortunately for me, she moved out when I was only eight to marry the love of her life, the late Robert Edward Yoder (not a relative). We all marveled at her patience as the queen mother of eight in the rapidly growing little kingdom that became her new family.

At her funeral I had the privilege of reading some of the memories each of her eight children had written, all of whom were blessed by living under her reign.

Here is a condensed version of one of those, by her oldest son Bob (Robert Edward, Jr.):

Mother's life was not impressive by most standards. She never really learned to drive, rarely took a trip, never spoke out in public, and was embarrassed by how her emotions would get in the way when she tried. Yet I don't know of anyone who more consistently lived a life of simple faith, servanthood and respect for others. The "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5 (love, joy, peace patience, kindness, etc.) were such a part of her life that we barely needed to be taught about them because of how well she demonstrated them.

I have never seen her angry. I have never heard her say a disrespectful word about anyone. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, she pondered much in her heart, gave advice sparingly, and exuded the nature of Christ beautifully. Consistently calm and loving, she never accused or jumped to rash conclusions.

Only eternity will reveal how strong and deep are the foundations that Dad and Mom have given us children to build our lives on. I know mom would never take the credit for this, because she would say it has been Jesus within and a constant moving toward God that has made her what she is.

I deeply love her as a shining example of what I believe is a truly successful life.

Here's a 9/3/13 link showing a special moment when Esther's daughter, granddaughter and infant great-granddaughter bond at her hospital bed soon after her stroke.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Introducing OldOrdercare

Local Old Order Mennonites, along with many of their Amish cousins elsewhere in the U.S., aren't really engaged in the current healthcare debate. They have a health plan of their own that works so well that they have been exempted from participation in the Affordable Care Act. They simply insure themselves.

A 1965 law passed by congress gave certain Amish and Mennonite groups the right to opt out of Social Security, Medicaid and certain other government benefits because of the kind of mutual aid they practice. With the ACA, they have the same exemption.

Donald Kraybill, professor at Elizabethtown College and author of numerous works about Old Order groups says, "The basic religious reason driving their resistance is that, as a religious faith, the church community should take care of its own members. If there's a disaster like a tornado, fire or hospital bill, the community should come together for that."

And it works, thanks to members paying as many of their own expenses for healthcare as possible, member families providing more of their own aging and end of life care, and with the local congregation (and if necessary, churches elsewhere) coming up with the rest. In many cases hospitals offer reduced rates due to their prompt and reliable payment of fees.

A recent Thomson Reuters report notes that another factor that helps keep their medical costs affordable is that Old Order groups generally live a more active and healthy lifestyle than the rest of the U.S. population, even though in some communities their children may be more susceptible to genetic disorders.

So there's a lot to like about OldOrdercare, a no frills, low stress and low overhead plan that simply requires a high level of trust in, and commitment to, ones community of faith.

And that's a price too few of us are willing to pay.

Later: After I posted this someone asked me for more information about "OldOrdercare" and how it works. There is, of course, nothing by this name; I'm simply describing something some churches have been doing forever, going back to the first century.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Could You Help Identify This Suspect?

This is a scanned copy of an actual police department poster used in Alexandria, Virginia, in February of 2010, and which led to the incarceration of Ashley Jefferson Grissette, currently serving an 18-year sentence in St. Bride's Correctional Center in Chesapeake (see an earlier blog about him). While no copy may be as good as an original, I can assure you that what you see here is as clear as the original copy I scanned at Kinko's last week.

There are two serious problems with this case. First, the images caught on surveillance camera are obviously not clear enough to identify the suspect with any certainty. When shown the images, Grissette's probation officer admitted it could be him, and a resulting affidavit states that his PO made a positive identification, but Grissette steadfastly insists he is innocent and has tried in vain to appeal his case.

The second problem is that Grissette's court appointed attorney urged him to accept a plea deal rather than have the case go to trial and have him risk an getting an even longer sentence. Under pressure to accept the plea, he never imagined it would cost him a decade and a half of his life.

Grissette admits to having committed a variety of crimes as a youth and young adult, for which he served a significant amount of time in prison, but had since held down a good job and was dramatically turning his life around at the time he was apprehended.

And then this.

He has no family support, so he especially appreciates mail:

Ashley Jefferson Grissette 1143033
St. Brides Correctional Center
701 Sanderson Road
P.O. Box 16482
Chesapeake, VA 23328

Read his story, "I Have Been Dealt an Extreme Hand of Injustice."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Would Jesus Vote?

colourbox free image
"My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."
- John 18:36 (NET)

As a citizen of a defeated and occupied nation, neither Jesus nor any of his fellow Jews had the right to vote (nor, for that matter, could Roman citizens of the time, since there were no elections as we know them). But had he had the right to cast a ballot for a Roman emperor or a Judean governor, would he have exercised it?

It is clear that the kingdom for which Jesus campaigned throughout his ministry was far, far grander than any in human history. It was one that knew no boundaries and that was to be ruled by God's chosen "Prince of Peace":

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
     but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.
- Isaiah 11:1-9 (NIV)

Early followers of Jesus saw themselves first and foremost as reborn citizens of that kingdom. As such they were mere "resident aliens" in the Roman empire, with each congregation being a kind of foreign embassy.

How would faithful members of this kind of messianic movement today relate to the nation in which they have their (secondary) citizenship?

1) Like Jesus, they would not identify themselves primarily with the latest political party or movement, whether Zealot, Essene, Democratic, Republican or Libertarian.

2) Like Jesus, they would speak fearlessly to and about the Pilates and Herods of their day, but would neither be disrespectful of them nor seek to overthrow them by force.

3) Like Jesus, they would concentrate on radically promoting the values and visions of the future rather than on preserving the values of the past or the status quo of the present.

Whether Jesus would have actually cast a vote as a legal resident of Rome or of Judea had he had that option remains a good question.

But rather than it being a $64,000 question, perhaps we should think of it as more like a $6.40 question, not unimportant, but not all-important in the larger scheme of things. In itself a vote may not be an instrument of much change. Tallied with many, many others, it may sometimes make some difference, or even a significant difference (check this link for one example). Nevertheless, it is not the essence of what either our U.S. or our Kingdom citizenship is all about .

What followers of Jesus are all about is faithfully using their voice and exerting their influence year round, wherever they go, exercising the power of prayer and persuasion in promoting the everlasting, worldwide movement to which they most truly belong.

"May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." That's our daily prayer and pledge.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Extravagance of Mulberries

I remember eating my fill of the dark berries that grew so profusely on a large mulberry tree on the farm where I grew up in Augusta County. It offered wild fruit that went mostly to waste, covering the ground with whatever the birds or some human passerby didn’t help themselves to.

Like wild cherries, they weren't seen as the kind of fruit worth canning or freezing, but provided an OK snack for an always hungry kid on a hot summer day.

My oldest son, a singer-songwriter who lives in Pittsburgh, wrote a poem for me a couple of years ago ago called “Mulberries”, one he put on a card he made me for Father’s Day, as follows:

The extravagance of mulberries 
is to dump love to earth as soft fruit,
an outrageous bounty, mongrel offerings
rolled out as a moist purple carpet.

This uninvited sweetness is not sold in supermarkets, 
grows without cultivation,
is offered without calculation 
in dark roadside circles.

The sweetest fruit eludes your grasp, 
slips quickly to the ground, fallen,
like God’s rain, 
for everyone, and for no one in particular.

Needless to say, these kinds of gifts are among the ones I treasure most.

You can check out Brad's website at www.bradyoder.com. And here's a link to a song he later wrote on the same theme: http://www.bradyoder.com/songs/the-mulberry-tree  and this is one to the YouTube version: http://youtu.be/Mm2JUwZ3l6E

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Parole Board That Doesn't

"Prisoners under the 'old law' parole system are always mindful that bad behavior will kill any chance they have of getting parole. And only parole provides an incentive for prisoners to modify their behavior once they are released from prison, because only a parolee is still under the supervision of the DOC and subject to having their parole revoked. There is a way to bring hope to the hopeless and assuage the public safety concerns of society at the same time."
- Steven W. Goodman 1028377, Buckingham Correctional Center


Parole was officially abolished in Virginia in 1995 during Governor George Allen’s administration, but more than 3,500 older inmates are still parole eligible, according to William W. Muse, current chairman of the Virginia Parole Board.

The official mission of the five-member Board, appointed by Virginia governors for four-year terms, is “to protect public safety and contribute to a fair and effective justice system by ensuring that persons who remain a threat to society remain incarcerated and those who have been sufficiently punished and no longer present a risk are released to become productive citizens.

In recent years, however, the Board has rarely granted such releases. In 2012, for example, out of 3,156 cases up for review, only 116 prisoners were paroled, according to Virginia CURE, an advocacy group for criminal justice reform. That’s under 4%, as compared to over 40% during some previous administrations.

Capitol News Service cites the current parole board chair as admitting they seldom actually meet with inmates, but professional parole examiners do their interviews for them either in person or by video conference. "We look at the examiner’s as well as Department of Corrections’ data on the original offense and how he has acted since he was incarcerated," he says, "After that, the decision is basically done by the computer.”

Apparently their computer routinely denies parole due to 'the serious nature of the crime'.

How does that make sense, since that “the nature of the crime” is a constant? Shouldn’t the Board be meeting with the individual under consideration, along with consulting prison personnel familiar with him or her, in order to determine whether that individual (not the crime) has changed and “no longer presents a risk”?

A growing number of those incarcerated are in their seventies and eighties and in declining health. Not only do they represent a near zero risk to society, they are in fact eligible for special consideration under the Geriatric Release provisions enacted in 1994. But even those cases are almost routinely denied, in spite of the growing costs to tax payers for their end of life care.

Meanwhile, Annette E. Blankenship, secretary for AdvoCare, Inc., notes that while the parole boards case load is a third of what it was in 1995, and that many inmates now come up for review only every three years rather than annually as before, the annual salary (not counting expenses) of the three full time members has grown to well over $100,000 annually and for the two part time members to over $50,000. This in spite of the fact that members do much of their work online from home.

With tightening state budgets, how can this be justified? How might we change this dysfunctional system?

According to the 2013 Mobile Justice Tour in Virginia, sponsored by the Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD), Bridging the Gap in Virginia, Good Seed, Good Ground, and the Virginia Organizing and Advancement Project, legislation will be introduced in the 2014 Virginia General Assembly to provide for earned sentence credit for good behavior and the successful completion of approved prison-based educational programs. This alternative to the former parole system has already proven successful in many states, according to MJT organizers. Specific Virginia legislation would provide for 1) prison-based literacy, educational, therapeutic, and vocational programs, 2) volunteer tax credits for professional and/or licensed persons providing educational and other services to incarcerated persons, and 3) temporary public assistance for up to nine months to newly released individuals.

A key part of the mission of the Parole Board, after all, is to make sure "those who have been sufficiently punished and no longer present a risk are released to become productive citizens.” 

Click here for more posts on criminal justice.

Sic Semper Captivis? (So Be It Ever to Prisoners?)