Gov. Ralph Northam designated May as “Second Chance Month,” igniting hope among nearly 2,000 state prisoners still eligible for parole release under the “old law” (incarcerated before parole was abolished in 1995) and who have been virtually infraction-free behind bars.
Sadly, the Virginia Parole Board granted only 15 releases last month (five of them geriatric), whereas they granted over twice that number the previous May.
This is heartbreaking to the many individuals who have worked diligently to earn their second chance, only to be repeatedly denied on the basis of the “seriousness of the offense,” something they are powerless to change.
I know of dozens of Virginia prisoners who are in honor units, have been infraction-free for decades and who are trusted mentors to younger offenders. They deserve the second chance they were promised when they agreed to plea deals for crimes they were charged with decades ago.