Saturday, April 5, 2014

Virginia Second Only To Florida For Long Prison Stays

click here for full report
Virginia is about to exceed $1 billion in annual spending on corrections for the first time since 2009, according to a report issued this week by the Justice Policy Institute.

In spite of this rising increase in cost, our legislators continue to reject reducing prison time for nonviolent offenders, and Virginia's Parole Board maintains its record low 3.5% early release rate for inmates convicted before parole was abolished in 1995. Many prisoners under the "old law" (before parole was done away with during Governor Allen's administration) are eligible for release based on a record of exemplary behavior since being in prison, and an increasing number of aging prisoners clearly deserve to be freed through the Geriatric Parole Statute provisions enacted in 1995.

According to the Institute's report, the rate of violent crimes in Virginia is actually declining, and is in fact lower than at any time since 1960, and the 22 states that have not adopted Virginia's increasingly harsh sentencing provisions have experienced equal or greater reductions in crime.

Meanwhile, gang related and other violence appears to be on the increase inside Virginia's prisons, according to reports I get from the inside. Many inmates see this as partly due to a chronic shortage of staff, which in turn limits the kinds of rehabilitative programs available, and partly due to the lack of incentive for good behavior that has resulted from a lack of provision for parole.

If you agree that there's something wrong with this picture, please join in the exercise of fervent prayer and persuasion to help bring about positive change.

Click here for more posts on criminal justice, and here for the story of how Sweden has been able to close four of its major prisons.
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