Thursday, February 20, 2014

An Appeal From Buckingham Prison

Buckingham Correctional Center
This is a part of a statement I received recently from Charles E. Zellers, Sr., currently at the Buckingham Correctional Center. He is among those who were incarcerated before parole was abolished in Virginia in 1995:

Virginia still houses prisoners who are parole eligible who have been repeatedly turned down for parole for from twenty to fifty years. As of this writing all parole eligible inmates have been away from their loved ones for at least nineteen years.

Virginia's Department of Corrections is holding about 4000 men and women in prison simply because the Parole Board will not give these prisoners a second chance, even though the only reason to hold them is to punish them and to keep the prison system at full capacity.
Many of those who are parole eligible are model prisoners and are first time offenders. The Board is keeping prisoners who are suffering mental and physical conditions deteriorating their lives and making it extremely hard for them to obtain gainful employment at an older age.

As prisoners grow older, the cost of their medical care increases dramatically. Virginia has a conditional release law for “geriatric” prisoners who are sixty years or older and have served at least ten years, or 65 or older and have served at least five years of their incarceration. Yet the Board is still not releasing prisoners unless they are near death. Virginia has the lowest parole grant rate in the entire nation!

Virginia also houses prisoners from foreign countries, mostly Hispanic and Asian, who are suitable for release and deportation, thus relieving the state of another monetary burden, yet all too often these, too, are systematically denied extradition.

Think of the money that could be saved and spent on schools and other projects if we stopped having the taxpayer pay for unnecessarily long prison stays. The total cost to incarcerate an average daily population of approximately 38,000 is $748.6 million, of which 4.8 % is from costs outside the corrections budget.

Please contact your lawmakers, the Governor’s office and news media to help correct the injustices created by the Parole Board and the current corrections system.

Charles E. Zellers, Sr., 1036758
Buckingham Correctional Center, B1-113-B
Box 430, 
Dillwyn, VA 23938
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