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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oh Free At Last! Independence Day at BKCC

Allan Spitzer, 68, was
incarcerated 32 years.
Inmates at the Buckingham Correctional Center had a special reason to celebrate the Fourth this year upon receiving news that six of their friends and fellow detainees had been released June 29 by the Virginia Parole Board. More than one of them cried when they received their parole grant letter, many having been denied parole year after year and coming to believe they they were going to die in prison. 

Charles Zellers writes, "There is a God and His holy hands are working to correct the injustice that has been done to parole-eligible inmates throughout the years. Those who were lost were pulled down to their lowest point in life until they were humbled before God and then He showed them mercy and brought them up out of the pits of hell making them victorious. I truly believe that these individuals will now be model citizens in society. God truly is a mighty God."

Henry Tipold, 72,
incarcerated 38 years.
Zellers is suggesting we write letters of thanks to the Governor and to members of the Virginia Parole Board, thanking them for offering these men their hard earned independence and encouraging the Board to continue to give deserving "old-law" men and women (incarcerated before 1995) their second chance at a new life. 

Ever rising costs and overcrowding inside Virginia's jails and prison adds to the urgency of these releases for the men and women sentenced prior to the 1995 so-called Truth-in-Sentencing (TIS) Law.

Another reason to release such inmates, he points out, is because many of the older prisons need remodeling. Some do not have air-conditioning and become unbearably hot, well exceeding temperatures in even animal shelters, those generally not to exceed 80 degrees. Inmates are allowed to purchase one eight-inch fan if they can afford the nearly thirty dollar cost.

Also from Zellers, "Hopefully, in the near future, all of DOC''s facilities will provide reentry for the inmates being released so that they will not be sent to other reentry facilities where they could be victimized by VADOC staff and inmates. This is why "old-law" and "new-law" inmates should not be housed together. This practice of VADOC has been going on since the 1995 TIS Law was implemented, and many parole-eligible inmates have lost their parole and good-time release dates because of those new-law inmates. BKCC has an entire 64-man housing unit that could be used as a reentry program to help get parole-eligible inmates out of the VADOC. 

"Each inmate being released from VADOC is mandated to go through a five-month reentry program, even after they have served 20-50 consecutive years inside VADOC. Presently, all of these programs are currently filled which is slowing down the release process. More reentry units are needed or VADOC has to speed-up the reentry programs, or even waive the reentry step if the parolee has a stable home plan and individuals on the outside to help them."

Here are some addresses:

Governor, Terrance R. McAuliffe
Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street, 3rd Floor

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Brian J. Moran
P. O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1475

Virginia Parole Board
P. O. Box 26963
Richmond, Virginia 23261-6936
Email at https://vpb.virginia.gov/contact/
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