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Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Prisoner Responds To Op-Ed Piece On Parole

Powhatan Correctional Center

I recently received permission to post the following letter from an inmate in the Powhatan Correctional Center in response to an October 19 op ed piece I wrote for Harrisonburg's Daily News-Record, "Parole System Needs Change":

Dear Mr. Yoder:

I have been incarcerated for the past 32 years of my life as a first time offender serving a multiple life-plus sentence I received when I was 20 years old. I am now 52, and my overall record has been that of a model prisoner who has worked earnestly to gain the privilege of parole. I started going up for parole in 1998 and have been denied each time, primarily for the stated reason of the serious nature of the crimes/offenses for which I was incarcerated.

In your recent article there were several statements made by the Virginia Parole Board Chairman concerning the discretionary parole process and consideration for release being currently conducted by a "computer".
 
If a " computer" is making the human assessment in my case... then I should have been released on parole by now. I would like to know why such factors (as my good behavior) are not taken into consideration for discretionary parole, a privilege I have been sufficiently punished for and earnestly earned with a completely rehabilitated mind and desire to be a productive citizen upon release.

My crime is the constant that will never change unless the convictions are overturned. But the computer, using the COMPS Re-Entry Risk Assessment Report used by the DOC and the Virginia Parole Board in assessing two primary areas of public safety concerns indicated that I was neither a general nor a violent recidivism risk to the community. Therefore by this computer assessment I was a good candidate for release on discretionary parole. Again I was denied for the same constant reasons and there was no thorough consideration of my case.

Virginia law states that "No person shall be released on parole by the Board until a thorough investigation has been made into the prisoner's history, physical and mental condition and character and of his conduct, employment and attitude while in prison. The Board shall determine that his release on parole will not be incompatible with the interests of society or of the prisoner." Virginia Code 1950, Section 53.1-155

Thank you for your time and attention to this reading, and I would greatly appreciate your assistance in asking Mr. William Muse, Chair of the Virginia Parole Board,* to personally look at my file objectively and without partiality.

Sincerely,

Jonathan D. White #1161021
3600 Woods Way,
State Farm, VA 23160
INM#128952


*William W. Muse, Chair
Virginia Parole Board
6900 Atmore Drive,
Richmond, VA 23225

P.S. In the letter in which Jonathan gives me permission to post this, he writes:
I am not the man the computer defines me to be based on the offenses of which I was convicted years ago. Nothing in my life today holds to yesterday or the sins of the past. I desire only to have an opportunity to be reunited with my family and live out the remainder of my life as a law abiding citizen of the Commonwealth doing all I can to live free."

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