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Saturday, February 6, 2016

HARD TIME VIRGINIA (Vol. I, No. 1)

One of hundreds of deserving men in Virginia prisons, the second from the left was incarcerated at 16,  has served 36 years and has been denied parole 12 times.
This is the first of an occasional "newsletter" containing items gleaned from inmate letters:

Some Parole Eligible Inmates Decline Release Interviews

According to a recent letter from a Virginia correctional facility (not the one housing the above), some 49 offenders there decided to forgo their parole interviews in February. They have all been behind bars for over 20 years (before parole was abolished), and have each been repeatedly turned down for parole release in spite of their best efforts. They remain as committed as ever to earning their release, but no longer see any use in meeting with their parole interviewer. "Only three of over 243 parole inmates have been granted parole here in the last three quarters," stated one inmate, "and we don't want to sit down and talk with an interviewer if they have shown no desire to release us."

Question For Virginia's Parole Board

One prisoner writes, "Is it lawful for the Parole Board to consider an inmate's prior criminal record when determining eligibility for parole? The Virginia legislature enacted a statutory parole review procedure [Va. code 53.1-155(A)] that creates an expectation of parole release based on inmates' behavior while incarcerated, yet the Board continues to arbitrarily detain thousands of parole eligible felons for reasons of the crime they committed, no matter what rehabilitation ('correction') they have demonstrated."

Prison Food Budget Cut by Over $1 Million

The 2015 Virginia Department of Corrections budget for food and food supplies and services was cut by $1,363,459 from the prior year, according to the Management Information Summary Annual Report (page 20), as researched by one inmate. He also cites the increased use of low-grade processed meats he fears increases everyone's risk of cancer. At one men's facility as many as 100 inmates at a time are locked in their chow hall with only one officer in charge, raising concerns about what could happen in case of a fire or a fight.

Inmate's Granddaughter Makes Contact After Seeing Blog Post

"My granddaughter is now 16 and lives with her mother. She came across your blog about my accomplishments and looked me up on the JPAY email services. I had not seen her in eight years. She is a gifted honor student and wants to go to college to pursue forensic psychology. I feel my short moment of influence can inspire her to excel. Yes, it does make a difference to do right, even when others think the worst of you and don't really know you. I told my wife that my granddaughter had read your blog and found me, and she thanks you also."
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