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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dear Governor McAuliffe: An Eloquent Letter From Buckingham Prison

Virginia's Governor McAuliffe
I recently received the following copy of a letter sent to Governor McAuliffe by an inmate at the Buckingham Correctional Center, someone who has been a long time advocate of having aging and infirm inmates in Virginia with good behavior records being granting Geriatric release. 

I will add his name as soon as I get confirmed permission to do so, but he wants the following to be circulated as widely as possible, and is encouraging all of us to contact the Governor on their behalf, copying any part of his letter they wish in doing so (see link at the end of the post):

The Honorable Governor Terry McAuliffe
Patrick Henry Building - Third Floor
1111 Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Governor McAuliffe:

I am writing on behalf of current and former Virginia inmates and our families to express our sincere appreciation for your brave and selfless efforts in restoring the voting rights of convicted felons.

While reading an article in the May 13, 2016, Richmond Times-Dispatch, I noticed that during your address from the 31st Street Baptist Church pulpit, you stated, "Those who know me know this has nothing to do with politics. This has to do with justice. This has to do with morality."

We commend you for your fortitude, as well as the "heavy lifting" involved in implementing such a controversial policy decision during the current political climate.

Many of your constituents and their families with loved ones who are currently incarcerated ask for you to allow morality to guide you even further by exercising authority over your Parole Board and directing them toward a more merciful and redemptive position by raising their grant rate of parole for long-term incarcerated inmates, and especially geriatric and infirm inmates who have earned the privilege.

As we are sure you are aware, many "old-law" inmates and geriatric inmates are languishing in Virginia's prisons. A large percentage are first-time violent offenders whose transgression occurred decades ago; all have been incarcerated for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years or more. Many have family, financial and community support, yet the Virginia Parole Board is reluctant to give them a chance at redemption.

Through your recent actions in restoring voting rights, and not just lip-service, it has become apparent that your moral compass points in the right direction. That said, will you please consider a directive to increase the abysmally low parole Grant rate and geriatric release rate in order that men and women, who have been locked up for over twenty years, be allowed to have a second chance? Many deserve a chance to live out their remaining years amongst their families, and make productive contributions to their communities, while not effecting Public Safety and simultaneously reducing our burden on the state.

Your legacy as Governor will already be noteworthy, and with God's help and your continuing resolve on these issues, we are certain it will be exemplary.

Once again, thank you for your initial attempt at restorative justice through the voting rights issue, and thank you in advance for your furtherance in these matters in the near future.

Sincerely,

A concerned inmate

Here's the link to email your message to the Governor: https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office

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