Earned sentence credits; 4.5 credits may be earned for each 30 days served on certain sentences. (HB5148)

Introduced By

Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) with support from co-patrons Del. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), and Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Department of Corrections; earned sentence credits. Establishes a four-level classification system for the awarding and calculation of earned sentence credits. The bill also specifies certain crimes that are subject to the maximum 4.5 earned sentence credits for each 30 days served that is permitted under current law. The bill provides that the Department of Corrections shall convene in due course a work group to study the impact of the sentence credit amendments set forth in the act. The bill directs the work group to report to the Governor and the General Assembly by July 1, 2021, the membership of the work group and the work group's plan for conducting such study, including any data and information upon which the work group will rely in conducting such study, and to report its finding and conclusions to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1, 2022. The remainder of the bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2022, and requires the calculation of earned sentence credits to apply retroactively to the entire sentence of any inmate who is confined in a state correctional facility and participating in the earned sentence credit system on January 1, 2022. As introduced, this bill was a recommendation of the Virginia State Crime Commission. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Passed

History

DateAction
09/01/2020Presented and ordered printed 20201069D
09/01/2020Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
09/02/2020House committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
09/02/2020Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (11-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
09/02/2020Committee substitute printed 20201113D-H1
09/02/2020Referred to Committee on Appropriations
09/04/2020House committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
09/04/2020Reported from Appropriations with substitute (13-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
09/04/2020Committee substitute printed 20201142D-H2
09/08/2020Read first time
09/09/2020Floor substitute printed 20201159D-H3 (Scott)
09/09/2020Read second time
09/09/2020Courts of Justice Committee substitute rejected 20201113D-H1
09/09/2020Appropriations Committee substitute rejected 20201142D-H2
09/09/2020Substitute by Delegate Scott agreed to 20201159D-H3
09/09/2020Engrossed by House - floor substitute HB5148H3
09/10/2020Read third time and passed House (53-Y 43-N)
09/10/2020VOTE: Passage (53-Y 43-N) (see vote tally)
09/10/2020Reconsideration of passage agreed to by House
09/10/2020Passed House (54-Y 41-N)
09/10/2020VOTE: Passage #2 (54-Y 41-N) (see vote tally)
09/15/2020Constitutional reading dispensed
09/15/2020Referred to Committee on the Judiciary
09/16/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB5148H3)
09/16/2020Rereferred from Judiciary (12-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
09/16/2020Rereferred to Rehabilitation and Social Services
09/18/2020Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
09/18/2020Reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services with substitute (8-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
09/18/2020Committee substitute printed 20201211D-S1
09/18/2020Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations
09/24/2020Reported from Finance and Appropriations (12-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
09/24/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB5148S1)
09/25/2020Constitutional reading dispensed (36-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
10/01/2020Passed by temporarily
10/01/2020Read third time
10/01/2020Reading of substitute waived
10/01/2020Committee substitute agreed to
10/01/2020Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute HB5148S1
10/01/2020Passed Senate with substitute (21-Y 19-N) (see vote tally)
10/02/2020Placed on Calendar
10/02/2020Senate substitute rejected by House (0-Y 93-N)
10/02/2020VOTE: Adoption (0-Y 93-N) (see vote tally)
10/07/2020Senate insisted on substitute (21-Y 15-N) (see vote tally)
10/07/2020Senate requested conference committee
10/07/2020House acceded to request
10/07/2020Conferees appointed by House
10/07/2020Delegates: Scott, Herring, Miyares
10/07/2020Conferees appointed by Senate
10/07/2020Senators: Boysko, Surovell, Cosgrove
10/13/2020C Amended by conference committee
10/13/2020Conference substitute printed 20201338D-H4
10/14/2020Conference report agreed to by House (54-Y 42-N)
10/14/2020VOTE: Agreed To (54-Y 42-N) (see vote tally)
10/14/2020Conference report agreed to by Senate (21-Y 18-N) (see vote tally)
10/16/2020Enrolled
10/16/2020Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB5148ER)
10/16/2020Signed by Speaker
10/16/2020Signed by President
10/21/2020Enrolled Bill communicated to Governor on October 21, 2020
10/21/2020G Governor's Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., October 28, 2020
10/21/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB5148ER)
10/28/2020Governor's recommendation received by House
11/09/2020G Approved by Governor-Chapter 50 (effective 7/1/22 - see bill)
11/09/2020House concurred in Governor's recommendation (54-Y 42-N)
11/09/2020VOTE: Adoption (54-Y 42-N)
11/09/2020Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (21-Y 18-N) (see vote tally)
11/09/2020G Governor's recommendation adopted
11/09/2020Reenrolled
11/09/2020Reenrolled bill text (HB5148ER2)
11/09/2020Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
11/09/2020Signed by President as reenrolled
11/09/2020Enacted, Chapter 50 (effective 7/1/22 - see bill)
11/09/2020G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0050)

Comments

L Jackson writes:

Please know that there are deserving people behind bars who are convicted of violent crimes the very same way there are those with nonviolent crimes who are not deserving and their prison file will support this. This includes my husband, having committed his crime at a young age of 21 he has grown so much and changed his life behind bars. From obtaining his GED, also 2 trades while within he has grown as a man and father and become a person who has goals and dreams that revolve around coming home and achieving all his plans honorably!

Any Earned Sentence Credit legislation should ALWAYS be based on a person's merit and achievements while serving their sentence, alone!

Incarceration is the punishment for committing crimes, This legislation would benefit those who actually use the tools and programs available to them to truly REHABILITATE!

If any prisoner accepts and absorbs what is available to them while incarcerated, they also deserve an opportunity to earn their way to a sooner release date. That way they can truly implement their positive changed mindset and be a contributing member of their State and Country. Allowing for ALL will ONLY apply to those who do the work, who show their change and work hard!

Bethany pruitt writes:

I am 100% in support of a bill that support NON VIOLENT CRIMES. I think it’s disgusting and disturbing that people could support a bill that supports RAPIST- SEX TRAFFICKERS- CHILD MOLESTORS AND SEX OFFENDERS.. it’s distasteful and anyone who supports a bill like that should have a mental evaluation..

I believe people for violent crimes such as murderers etc can be on a case by case bases and people do change but SEXUAL predators is not a changed behavior..

If the bill amends sexual and child molestation crimes- I am 100% for it.

Fred Woehrle writes:

This is a very bad bill, HB 5148, because it will let even rapists and murderers out early. It basically shortens sentences by greatly expanding sentence credits. That's fine for non-violent drug offenses, but not for rape and murder. Shortening sentences for violent crimes increases crime.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has a web page titled "Sentence Enhancements Reduce Crime." It discusses how California’s Proposition 8 reduced crime by keeping “repeat offenders” off of the streets. According to the study it cites, "Because convicted criminals were serving longer sentences, years after the law’s change they were still locked up, rather than out on the streets committing crime." Murderers sometimes commit murder again after being released from prison, even those released from prison at an advanced age. Like Albert Flick, who did so at the age of 77 (he killed Kimberly Dobbie right in front of her children).

Supportive Wife of Offender that's EARNED IT writes:

I support this bill ENTIRELY!! This bill gives those who EARNED it a chance of coming home sooner! This isn't a get out of jail free card these offenders eligible HAVE a release date. No one knows for certain whether a non violent/violent offender will repeat their crime. This world is full of good and bad human beings. Everyone deserves a second chance! We are all guilty of Sin, some got caught and sentenced some walked away freely! My husband was an immature 18 year old kid at the time of his crime and he knows himself the path he was going down would have ended him up possibly dead. Since being in at such a young age he's had to grow up and mature on the inside behind bars. Any one who has a loved one incarcerated knows how hard it is to stay charge free while doing their time. The least little thing can get you a charge. My husband has been level 1 good time for at least 15 years out the 20 he's done so he's EARNED this so that shows he wants a second chance on the outside of those prison walls to be the loving husband and father he already is. This is what the bill is for. I'm hoping and praying it passes through and soon becomes a bill.

Debra Estep Turner writes:

Sexual offenses are particularly heinous, especially those directed against children. But our gut response to how frequently they reoffend is just not born out by the research and data.

"Sexual recidivism rates range from 5 percent after three years to 24 percent after 15 years. The rates of recidivism for general crime are higher than those for sex crimes. A meta-analysis involving 61 studies that included nearly 29,000 sex offenders followed up on average for four to five years found that sexual recidivism was 13% for child molesters and 19% for rapists, and reoffences of non-sexual violence 10% and 22% respectively" (Hanson & Bussiere, 1995).

His Mrs. writes:

I support this bill 100%!!!!!!!!!
To those who feel this should not EARNED by ALL, This bill makes those who have committed crimes, no matter what they are, EARN their freedom sooner by establishing a positive foundation while in prison to SUCCEED upon release! They are credited for their improvements in higher education, trades, skills and spending every minute of every day toeing all lines placed in front of them to avoid being dinged for even the slightest "infraction". Do you realize they can get written up for not having their mask properly in place?? IE: Falling off their nose. You know the same masks 50% of the population LIE about having medical issues and cannot wear simply because they can get away with it!!! Am I mental because I realize that a person in Va can be charged with statutory rape at 18 and 1 month for having consensual sex with a 17 & 1 mo y/o? That charge is a sex offense! They deserve to not EARN their way home sooner?! The reason this needs to be for ALL is situations exactly as just described!!! Should those with heinous sex offenses or crimes against children be held to higher standards and have to do more to qualify for this bill? Sure, take that up with DOC who mandates what they have to do in order to even be considered for each level according to the DOC handbook! As for repeating crimes, see https://vadoc.virginia.gov/news-press-releases/2019/virginia-maintains-the-lowest-recidivism-rate-in-the-country/#:~:text=Virginia's%20latest%20recidivism%20rate%20is,the%20lowest%20in%20the%20country.

"Virginia’s latest recidivism rate is 23.4 percent.

Of the 43 states reporting 3-year recidivism rates (the number of offenders who are re-incarcerated within three years of their release from prison), the Virginia DOC’s rate of 23.4% is the lowest in the country."

This is data driven by offenders who have finished their sentence and been released, same as those currently incarcerated who HAVE RELEASE DATES will be able to add to and keep this # LOW!!!

Frances writes:

First I would like to say I believe in forgiveness and compassion!

HB5148 is a GOOD TIME EARNING CREDIT BILL IT IS NOT OPEN THE DOORS AND SET EVERYONE FREE!

FACT 95% of the people behind our prison walls are coming back into our communities one day!

This bill will allow ALL PEOPLE that work hard inside our prison walls to EARN the ability to come home to their families a little sooner!

HB5148 Will hold each and every person accountable for the choices they make!

HB5148 Will make for a safer work environment for the staff and correctional officers behind are prison walls!

HB5148 will certainly restore hope to those people behind are prison walls!

HB5148 should be available for everyone behind are prison walls the choose to EARN it!

People that have done what would be considered the worse crimes have sentences that reflect that! Example a serial killer has multiple life sentences would not receive these credits!

I firmly believe that a person who committed what the state code considers a violent crime is a violent person!

1 in 4 people in the state of Virginia have either been inside our prison walls or know someone inside!

Additional I ask that everyone stop
And think what you would want if you Mother, Father, Husband, Wife or Child was currently behind our prison walls!

Fred Woehrle writes:

This bill, HB 5148, will increase the crime rate by reducing deterrence. That will result in more murders, rapes, and robberies.

If people think they will get a short sentence as long as they behave in prison, they will be more likely to commit a crime in the first place.

This bill would let some murderers and repeat rapists serving long sentences get nearly half their sentences eliminated, making their sentence far too short. It says: "For persons receiving Level I sentence credits, 13 days shall be deducted from the person's sentence for every 30 days served. If the person maintains a Level I classification beyond one year consecutively, sentence credits shall be awarded as follows: (i) during the second year, 16 days shall be deducted for every 30 days served; (ii) during the third year, 20 days shall be deducted for every 30 days served. (iii) during the fourth year, 25 days shall be deducted for every 30 days served; and (iv) during the fifth year and any consecutive year thereafter, 30 days shall be deducted for every 30 days served."

30 days off for 30 days served is a lot, releasing a criminal very early. That includes murderers and repeat rapists. Unlike past early-release credit legislation, such as SB 5034 as introduced last month, this bill allows even murderers and rapists to get out early. Even though some murderers and rapists go on to kill and rape again (see the example of Albert Flick, who murdered again at age 77).

This bill should be revised to exclude the most violent and dangerous criminals, such as murderers and rapists, from its expanded sentence credits -- or be voted down.

The credits in this bill are more than what's needed to encourage good behavior. Current law already gives all inmates 4.5 days credit for every 30 days they behave, which is adequate to encourage good behavior.

The excessive credits in this bill are really parole in disguise. And some egregious offenses don't warrant parole or early release, given the need to deter such offenses in the first place.

Taylor May writes:

This bill would be an amazing thing for ALL. I will show my support endlessly for this.

Family Member of an incarcerated loved one writes:

I am writing to ask that you pass HB 5148 to expand earned sentence credits for ALL people behind bars.

I feel that ALL men and women behind bars deserve a second chance. An earned sentence credit program that they can participate in and work towards to rehabilitate themselves. One that will encourage them to participate in programs to work towards achieving their ultimate goal at being better members of society.  Afterall isn't that the goal? To have them become better members of society. We have to stop over looking this issue and recognize the men and women who have already started a new path of life in prison by attending programs, working and staying infraction/charge free. 

Alot of these men and women already have release dates and will eventually come home. Alot them will be on years of probation and have to report and stay out if trouble otherwise be violated and sent back. Providing them with the necessary tools while being incarerated will allow them to come out and be productive members of society.

Candace Jones writes:

Virginia is for lovers, it should be for second chances as well. This bill will give offenders an incentive to change their perspective of what is ethical and what’s not as well as give them hope of a future. I support this bill 100%. Who we see as violent criminals today were once innocent people who were probably victims themselves, maybe of abuse, trauma, drug abuse, or harsh living conditions. This does not excuse their choice of expressing their grievances but it gives them an opportunity to feel more comfortable about opening up about it knowing that there are people who are willing to listen.

Dianne writes:

Everyone saying how this bill lets out rapists, murderers, and sex offenders etc clearly are not reading and are just responding on emotion. yes I said it. THIS BILL DOES NOT OPEN THE FLOOD GATES AND LETS PEOPLE OUT. It allows for people to EARN, EARN, EARN a way to get a reduction in their sentence. That means if a person TRULY wants to see life on the other side and have a second chance they will do what they need to do to earn it. Let's stop acting like Virginia has not catered to mass incarceration of black and brown people for 25 years. Let's not act like black and brown people aren't incarcerated with felonies at higher rates. Let's stop turning a blind eye to the fact that Virgnia's black population is 19 % but 40 % of the prison population. There is something wrong. This bill does not benefit non violent offenders they get little time anyway. It will benefit those like my loved one who took a plea at 18 years old for a crime he did not commit. Oh and do not sit and say well why would he do that. The criminal justice system does not cater to the poor. it caters to the rich and guilty on the white side of the law. he was involved in 1 crime 1 and the person who died was doing the dirt with him. so while I feel for that loss, my LO has spent an entire 2 decades incarcerated. He has rehabilitated aka grown up and is not who he was at 18 now at 40. He and others like him deserves to live and create a life not get out at 65 and be another burden on taxpayers because then you all will complain about that. I AGREE WITH THIS BILL 100%. SECOND CHANCES FOR ALL. IF THAT IS AN ISSUE TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND ASK YOURSELF WHERE YOU WOULD BE IF YOU WERE JUDGE BY WHO YOU WERE AT 18. I am so sick of this racist mess. It is time for change and Del Scott had the courage to try and make it happen. I support him and this bill.

A wife of an inmate writes:

Please pass this bill. My man is is prison for over 11 years for drugs and it was his first offense. He deserves another chance. He isn't a murderer a rapist a pedophile. He deserves another chance without having to stay another 3 years. Im not really concerned about ALL however if those people are rehabilitated then why not. Just pass the bill because this pandemic isn't going ANYWHERE anytime soon. Inmates are humans too. They deserve to be treated aa such.

Brianna Brust writes:

I fully support this bill and feel strongly that it should include EVERYONE! It gives inmates hope and the opportunity to EARN good time. It doesn't just let inmates go free. The bill incentivises good behavior and participation in programs that will help rehabilitate inmates and better prepare them for release. It will increase the overall morale inside the prisons and improve the work environment for all DOC employees bc inmates will be less likely to misbehave in fear of losing their earned sentence credits status/level. You can catch a charge or get an infraction for any and everything you do wrong behind those walls. Do you really understand how hard it is to remain infraction free? In order for any inmate to get to a level one and stay at a level one for 5 years to be earning the max amount of earned sentence credits will be extremely difficult and it would take a lot of hard work and dedication. Only those who are 100% committed to changing their lives and living by the rules would be able to successfully get to the point where they are earning the max amount of good time. Our criminal justice system has been extremely flawed for many, many years and this is a real chance for us to right some of our wrongs. There are good men and women behind bars and they ALL deserve a second chance. 2020 is the year for real change! Now is the time! Open your eyes and your hearts and give these people a chance. It is a chance, an opportunity! Again, I fully support this bill as written and hope you will too! Everyone makes mistakes in life, some much worse than others. However, all people are worthy of forgiveness and second chances.

Lauren Penn writes:

I fully support this bill. Just because you are incarcerated in prison does not mean you are being rehabilitated. Inmates should be able to have a chance to show that they have made a mistake and are rehabilitating. Prison should not be forever, it changes people in a way that actually hurts our public safety rather than helps. It Institutionalize them in a way, that can make family reunification very difficult.

A concerned loved one writes:

I support this bill. Please give the families and their loved ones some light and pass this. They truly want to earn the credits and come home. Thank you.

Loretta P. writes:

I support Increased Earned Sentence Credits for EVERYONE! Please Support Delegate Don Scott's Bill HB 5148 for Increased Earned Sentence Credits for All as recommended by the Crime Commission, to include ALL offenders earning good time credits! Please do not exclude “violent” offenders from the proposed increased earned sentence credits, which is the majority of the offender population.
I support increasing the amount of good time credits that ALL residents in the VADOC can EARN , regardless of their charge. Residents have to earn this time off their sentence, it will not be given to them. This will in turn create safer prisons, a safer work environment for the correctional officers and other workers, and it will undoubtedly restore HOPE for residents and their families.
The idea that Virginia has a low recidivism rate is based on false concepts. If offenders are being incarcerated for ridiculously long sentences, they are not being "rehabilitated", but rather "preserved" as in a canning process. They are being locked away and forgotten about until they are senior citizens with no interest in anything but dying. "Rehabilitation" is the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness.
Our prisons do have rehabilitation programs. If offenders have completed the rehabilitation programs, they should be allowed to re-enter society with a chance to prove themselves, in a reasonable amount of time. This includes those charged with a sex offense, because many have been falsely accused, will hold the stigma of their charge the rest of their lives, and will have to register the rest of their lives. Many are there because someone lied about their age, or simply pointed their finger with no evidence other than their statement. There is a specific treatment program in place, SORT, that those charged with a sex offense have to complete before being released.
Too many men and women are serving unfair, long sentences with little to no hope of parole. Eligibility for "good-time earned early release" is now at a maximum of 85% of time served, but many are handed unfair long sentences for first-time and/or non-violent crimes. Discretionary sentencing guidelines are ignored with no explanation from the judges. Our prisons are over-crowded and under-staffed. The facilities are old and in desperate need of repair.
My son is serving a 27 year sentence. His discretionary sentencing guidelines were 3 to 5 years maximum. He was only 30 years old at the time of his incarceration. He has served over 8 years already, 3 years beyond his sentencing guidelines.
He has 2 children growing up without him. He was a business owner, and respected member of the community. He was a good husband and father and son. It is a burden on our family to have him incarcerated for so long. It has put an emotional and financial strain on our family. He attends church, is a member of the choir and Veteran's group. He has completed and is taking all courses and programs available to him. He attends college courses and is an Educational Aide/GED Tutor. He is not a trouble-maker.
There are many men and women who have similar stories. Before the COVID pandemic, I visited weekly and have become friends with many of the men and their families. It is my opinion that many of the men don't belong there but have no chance of getting out any time soon. Many would be viable members of our society.
Please Support the Proposed Bill for Increased Earned Sentence Credits for ALL. Many men and women offenders in Virginia deserve a chance to re-enter society while they are still young and viable.

darrell mccain writes:

I believe this should be passed because everyone deserves a second chance at life in the world not just behind bars. Some people are innocent of their crime, some have been rehabilitated, some made a horrific mistake at such a young age their brain wasn't developed enough to k ow right from wrong. Please I am a tax paying american citizen and I would love to see us as Americans give a helping hand and a second chance to people who deserve it.

Janita Wilson writes:

My name is janita beale and i support this bill on the behalf on my husband who is currently incarcerated in va doc . He is model inmate and trying to stay on the straight and narrow path for him to be released. With this bill being passed and other criminal reform bills , this will put ny husband in better position to come home . He been on level 1 for 3 years and still have deserve a second chance . I think all inmates who has shown signs of rehabilitation and growth deserves and second chance from society .

Rhonda McGuire writes:

I fully support this bill 1548 my son has been in for three years he has learned a trade about to learn a second trade he has also worked on the road crew he follows all rules people deserve a second chance eople fo change

Frances R. Booker writes:

I support this bill HB5148. If this bill would pass it would be beneficial for many reasons. Non-Violent or Violent Crimes. Does all prisoners deserves to be part of this bill? I can not save because his crime is what determine his earned sentence credit. Whether it was one of (the Big 6 crimes) that give a longer sentence: then did his time justify his crime? I will take you down the pathway of my brother's life. This is a true event of my brother. Understand, not only have my brother suffered these 10 years, but his family has to. He has loss so many of his family members that he didn't get to see. The Corona-virus has kept many families from seeing their love ones. The very reason I am going into details about my brother is because he is a Non-Violent Prisoner. I believe he was wrongfully sentence with the amount of time given to serve. If given earned sentence credit based on his level he would be home real soon. So, if these guys can get earned sentence credit it would give them hope!! (YOU SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED IN PRISON). These guys have many obstacles to face while locked away. What was the reason that caused them to be in prison? Many are given an ID number and that is what they become in prison.(A number) You can find the best in any person. My brother were judged during his sentence to whether he would be a "Menace to Society" (called this at his sentencing by the judge) upon his release. How would you feel to be judged at a sentence with such thought. They are people who made a bad choice. My brother is behind bars for a non-violent crime. He violated his probation in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court in 2010 and was given a sentence of 15 years and 12 months. Yes, my family and I have been greatly hurt and concerned about this sentence, because for a person not to have a new charge and given this much time it brings a big concern to whether there were other bias reasons for this sentence. Even the Parole Board at that time dismissed any time my brother had left with them. I believe they were "shocked" at the lengthy sentence the judge gave my brother. I believe that this sentence was crucial and a harsh unjustified sentence. Sure many letters and an appeals were sent for a reduction in his sentence but it was denied. I worked as an Office Services Assistant with the DOC for over 11 years before retiring. My job were to input sentences from a court order. I understand very well what crimes are and how much time should be given based on sentencing guidelines. Also, I understand the sentencing guidelines gives the judge and idea of what to sentence a person to. Well, I understand that judges can depart from guidelines, but to give a person 15 years and 12 months is totally absurd for a probation violation. Just an example: you have crimes of frist degree murder and the person doesn't get that much time. Then you look at the circumstances that lead to his crime that would result in the sentence. So, my reason is that "NO PROBATION VIOLATION IS WORTH A SENTENCE OF 15 YEARS AND 12 MONTHS". Please look at his criminal record it will prove to that effect: it was very wrong for my brother to sell drugs, but the use of drugs caused his life to be destroyed. The dependency on drugs played a big part in his criminal charges. Many addicts would do anything to get that drug. This is what my brother did. He sold drugs for someone else just to justify his needs. He deserve a chance to come home and I believe he has learned his lesson!!. HB5148 is the best bill introduced into law if passed that could help many of these guys return to society. Not only would it help the prisoners, but it would help tax payers that are struggling to keep life abroad due to this pandemic we are facing today. By releasing some prisoners would prevent over-crowed prisons and reduce the funds used to care for an inmate daily needs. Finally, every man or women deserves a second, or third chance in life. My brother is a level 1 whom has paid his debt to society by serving over 10 years. If HB5148 becomes a law it will bring my brother home. I know many of us as citizens have been given chances to change, so I feel these prisoners deserve the same. This bills pertains to certain levels for each inmate, and it will not take away all their sentence, but it would bring them closer to a release date and maybe some will be released. So, please pass this bill and give these prisoners a chance to "CHANGE"!!!!! Thank you!!!

Sara writes:

I am 100% in support of the HB5148 bill. It is unfortunate that the original HB1532 was continued. No one should have any say so in who is able to have a second chance. There are people who made decisions that cost them their freedom for whatever reason we all cannot judge. There are many women and men away from their families. It is not only the person who is incarcerated that is effected but the families as well. I agree with the comment above stating that majority of the people already have a release date! You disagreeing to them being released early isn't stopping them from being released at all. Many people are enrolled in programs, getting a better education and redeeming their selves.

Bonnie Diehr writes:

I am 100% in support of HB5148. I have a family member incarcerated, an employee who has a son incarcerated and a family friend. All three men come from different walks of life, two are non-violent offenders and one is considered violent. The two non-violent are both slated to be released one within 16 months and the other within 28 months or sooner, once he moves into the work release/reentry programs. Both have completed multiple, if not all programs available to them to be successful outside the VADOC; including but not limited to receiving their GED's, completing the RISE Program, mentoring other inmates and leading religious gatherings prior to COVID-19. The family friend who is considered violent has also completed all programs, to date that are available, works daily, conducts himself under the rules of the VADOC and has worked with the victim's family to seek/receive forgiveness. I believe offering a system that encourages respect, changes behavior and allows for the inmates to work towards a goal will assist the Commonwealth of Virginia to further set an example of how the people of this state recognize everyone deserves a second chance. I have listened to the committees speak, other members of our society, both for and against this Bill, each person with their own opinion. I believe each of us should step back and think about if this happened to us, would we want the opportunity to earn our way back to society, if possible. The world is full of success stories around inmates who have been released and gone on to be productive members of their communities. When will Virginia see that we can offer that same option to our inmates? Lastly, please consider passing this Bill and provide these individuals the opportunity to be the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc to their families and contribute to society in a positive manner.

Offender's Advocate writes:

I support HB5148, the Earned Sentence Credits Bill. Without incentives like earning time off a sentence, prison is an overcrowded dead end. Sentencing guidelines are strict to begin with, extremely long sentences handed down by juries not informed on the minimum/maximum variations, by judges with personal agendas, or by prosecutors and police with personal vendettas. This needs to stop! A person of ANY race is subjected to substandard representation if by chance they cannot pay tens of thousands dollars to hire an attorney and need a public defender. The judicial system is broken when a public defender gets paid 10k per charge they coerce their clients into pleading guilty to rather than go into court and actually defend their clients, want to know who pays that? The Commonwealth's Attorney does. That should be a clear conflict of interest for the defender to get paid to throw their client away. Your tax dollars at work. Whereas a person charged with the same crime, with the same background criminal history, yet can buy (yes, I meant buy) a lawyer will get less than half the sentence.

Once in prison, Virginians are subjected to more injustices. They are there to serve a sentence, not be constantly kept down. Earned Sentence Credit is an incentive to improve themselves. Incentive to take classes offered. Incentive for better behavior. If there is a chance to shorten their sentence, they can literally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Given that chance, the majority of offenders are willing to take that first step of showing good behavior. Without that chance, what is there for them to do? Sit for 20, 30, 40 or more years and come out unchanged for the better? That's what happens now. Like I said, it's a dead end.

The ability to change comes from inside a person. If they can see a way to improve they're more likely to do so. This bill, HB5148 is the way, the light in that tunnel and the opening of a dead end. I beg you, put that tool into the hands that need it.

Thank you.

Sherman Lea writes:

Anyone saying this bill will release murderers, rapists or other "violent" offenders out into society is only playing on the emotions of others. It's scare tactics and fear mongering at its worst. The doors will not the thrown open to anyone in a prison to get a free pass.

This is to REWARD good behavior, to incentivize improvement. Any offender not meeting the guidelines will not earn the good behavior credits. Take a look at any offender that is at level 4, no extra time is earned not even the 4.5 days a level 1 earns now. Nothing changes between the current law and the proposed law for those people that do not wish to improve.

Offenders wishing to improve themselves and want to be able to reenter society as a productive citizen can do so when HB5148 passes into law. An offender that stays at level 1, the desired level, still has to keep that level for 5 years to reach that goal of 30 days off their sentence for every 30 served.

Please vote yes for HB5148 and let this be the year Virginia leads the way to real prison reform!

Janet Walton writes:

I support HB 5148. Not only will this help our people, it will also help the mass incarceration pandemic!!

Pass HB5148

Crystal writes:

I support non violent

Selena harris writes:

My friend has been incarcerated since he was 16 for robbing a pizza man, no bodily harm involved. He is now 35 and has 6 more years. He is not the same kid that thought 40 or 50 dollars was a lot of money. He is a man that now knows that he messed up. I 100%support this bill.

Anna M writes:

I support HB 5148 for offenders that have bettered themselves during incarceration. my grandchildrens father is a perfect example,he has been In prison since 2009.. after commiting his first felony he received a 25 year sentence for Robbery..he has a different mindset than he did at age 28.he hasn't used drugs in the 11 years he has been in.he has grown tremendously as a father ,and so much as a person in general.he has received his GED and certificates for 6 different trades ..he has completed every single class ordered by DOC. He has developed a good relationship with his kids and they want him home.he deserves a chance to prove that he can and will be a positive and productive person in society.

Rashaun Trammel writes:

I support the HB 5148 . I feel everyone deserves at second chance to be a productive citizen and be treated with respect. This bill gives all women and men hope to get back out into society and to be a good person they are. Allows them to utilize all skills they have learned to succeed and be successful. Also because they have EARNED it. I feel no one should be excluded and that you all will allow all women/ men a second chance. Justice for all. I vote yes HB5148 .

Bre Lewis writes:

I support this bill. I understand that only those who are working hard will be eligible to participate in program, not everyone will be eligible because not everyone will work to reform themselves. Let's allow those who are actually working hard and changing the chance to get home to their families sooner.

Leigh Ann Christian writes:

Everyone deserves a second chance. These people have already been punished for their mistakes.... haven't we all made them? God gives us chances every day so please give these people the chance to prove they have learned from their mistakes and that their past does not determine their future or their worth. What is reform without faith? Show them faith that you believe in them the same way God believes in us. All human beings are deserving of compassion. Please find it in your heart to show compassion and not exclude anyone. Families are ready and willing to give them the support and love on the outside that's needed for them to be a productive member of society as well as the men and women are ready to prove to their families they have learned a tough lesson in life and only want to honor their families. Some are getting old and just want to be with their families before they die and this would be such a blessing to be able to allow that. I approve of this bill

Tonya perdue writes:

I truly support this bill to give ppl a chance to enjoy life with they love once that's been gone for to many years and from they kids and parents that's really waiting to see them back in the community to be successful because it's ppl that gave learned they lesson behind bars

jessica fullen writes:

I truly support this 5148 bill %100 to the inmates that didn't have no kind of sexual offense I do truly believe it's ppl that's ready to start they life again like my man Calvin Perdue who is in there for a non- violent offense and that has achieve some great programs certificate plz pass this bill to help ppl have life with they love once in the future they are putting ppl away for to long and it don't take multiple decades to learn from your mistakes.

Ppl keep your faith strong and hopefully we wake up soon and the blessing was granted to our family and friends that's behind bars.

Rosalynn Good writes:

I DO NOT support this bill!!!! I have worked with so many victims of crime that would be devastated if this bill is passed. Like a mother whose daughter was killed by an impaired driver, or the father whose daughter was raped by the next door neighbor. Who will notify all of the victims of the inmates’ early release? Who will protect the victims when one of these inmates goes after the victim "that put them in prison?" What happens when the victim is in the grocery store or elsewhere in public and sees the defendant for the first time, not even knowing he/she has been released? All those horrible feelings, the fear, the trauma, the pain, and the mental anguish comes flooding back like the crime just occurred. Think about if it was your daughter, your son, father, mother, husband, wife, sister, brother, best friend or any other loved one. How would you feel knowing the defendant that hurt or killed your loved one was going to be released from prison early? This bill is a terrible bill and I guarantee this bill will cause more bad than good.

Rosalynn Good

MC writes:

I feel that ALL men and women behind bars deserve a second chance. An earned sentence credit program that they can participate in and work to  rehabilitate themselves. One that will encourage them to participate in programs to work towards achieving their ultimate goal at being better members of society.  Afterall isn't that the goal? To have them become better members of society. We have to stop over looking this issue and recognize the men and women who have already started a new path of life in prison by attending programs, working and staying infraction/charge free. 

Brittany m arnold writes:

I support this bill 100%. Everyone deserves a second chance. Pass this bill make these people want to do better.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Rosalynn, your objections are entirely about people being released from prison at all.

Fred Woehrle writes:

Maryland has a violent crime rate more than double Virginia’s. Maryland has a violent crime rate of 468.7 per 100,000 people, according to USA Today, compared to a violent crime rate of only 200 per 100,000 in Virginia.

So the argument that Virginia should expand sentence credits to be more like Maryland may not be very persuasive. (That's an argument made by a sponsor of the less extreme Senate version of this bill, which wouldn't release murderers and rapists the way this bill would; I don't know whether Maryland gives early release to as many murderers and rapists as this legislation would).

Effectively shortening sentences through overly generous sentence credits is a mistake. Longer sentences deter crimes from being committed in the first place. Letting inmates out early because just because they behave while in prison reduces this deterrent effect. Shortening sentences also makes it easier for criminals to get out and resume preying on potential victims. The National Bureau of Economic Research notes that longer sentences "reduce crime" by keeping inmates locked up and away from potential victims, citing research in the Journal of Law & Economics.

In 1977, Virginia’s Fairfax County had a similar crime rate to similarly prosperous Montgomery County, Md. But that changed after prison sentences got longer in Virginia, and Virginia eliminated parole. Fairfax County ended up with much less crime than Montgomery County.

In 2019, ABC’s channel 7 discussed how Maryland's Montgomery County has twice the "violent crime rate" as "neighboring Fairfax County." That was attributed to the fact "that the Maryland Judiciary is, generally speaking, more lenient on criminal defendants" and Virginia’s "harsh sentences," which are "a huge deterrent" to crime.

Releasing career criminals early is harmful to our society and our economy. If not kept in prison, a career criminal can inflict hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic harm every year, far more than the cost of jailing that criminal. A 1998 study in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology estimated that there were "$165,000 in victim costs per year of a criminal’s career" for a typical "career criminal."

By disproportionately cutting long sentences, this legislation would disproportionately help murderers and rapists, who tend to get the longest sentences. As the Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network noted on Twitter, under the bill, "Someone serving a 5 year sentence would serve 64% of his sentence. Serving 10 years, 58%. Serving 20 years, 54%. (Assuming the person stays at level one the whole time)."

Fred Woehrle writes:

This bill appears to have been amended today to exclude murderers and certain other violent or sex criminals. If so, that is good from a racial justice perspective, because so many victims of violent crimes like murder are African-American.

Half of all murder victims are black men. So letting murderers out early could harm black people most, by reducing disincentives to commit murder, which disproportionately afflicts black people.

In Virginia, over half of homicide victims are black. And this is often true nationally as well. For example, in 2015, "Black men ... made up 52% of all murder victims" in America, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. See NCJRS, "Homicide", at pg. 1 (https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/ncvrw/2017/images/en_artwork/Fact_Sheets/2017NCVRW_Homicide_508.pdf).

Supporters of early-release legislation point out that a lot of black men are in prison. But letting out offenders of a particular race doesn't benefit that race as a whole, because criminals usually victimize members of their own race.

As the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes, violent crimes are committed mostly between members of the same racial group, and this is true for "rape or sexual assault," "simple assault," "aggravated assault," and indeed, "all types of violent crime except robbery." (See Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012-2015). Similarly, PolitiFact noted that between 2010 and 2013, "92 percent of blacks who were murdered were killed by other blacks."

Letting out drug offenders is a different matter. Drug dealers often sell drugs to people of different races. Property crimes also are less intra-racial than violent crimes.

Shannon Fontaine writes:

Redemption is real!! An earned sentence credit program that they an inmate can participate in and work to rehabilitate themselves. One that will encourage them to participate in programs to work towards achieving their ultimate goal at being better members of society. Afterall isn't that the goal? To have them become better members of society. We have to stop over looking this issue and recognize the men and women who have already started a new path of life in prison by attending programs, working and staying infraction/charge free. Ask every situation when it comes to a violent offense is different. The way Del. Scott first wrote it was the best option. Don’t we want people to contribute to society and pay taxes and live good lives. There are so many stories of life after incarceration. They have families that want to help them and many also have the support on the outside.

Christina writes:

I support HB 5148 I believe people can rehabilitate over time. My loved one is such a blessing to me he has so much potential if given the opportunity to show the world who he really is. I believe people should show they have matured over time since being in prison. Most of the people incarcerated are black and are serving majority of their lives in prison for crimes that white people serve less time for and it's not fair to our loved ones or their families. Especially during this time of a pandemic its scary and they need to know they are not alone. Give them a chance to prove they can be in society again, please. Thanks for listening.

Melinda Stowe writes:

I fee that EVERY inmate should be eligible for this. I feel that no one should be excluded.

Leigh Ann Christian writes:

Fred Woehrle I really would like to know why you're bringing race into this matter because it has nothing to do with Earned Credit. Either you have been a exemplary inmate and have shown that you have been reformed or you have not. Race and what they are charged with has nothing to do with it. God can change anyone and hopefully He can change your narrow mind. I'll say a prayer for you and God May Bless You.

Fred Woehrle writes:

The reason I addressed the racial justice issue is because it was raised by the bill's sponsor. Far more black people are victimized by crime than in state prison. But the bill's sponsor cites the fact that state prisons have a higher black percentage than the state population does. Well, crime victims are much more heavily black than the state population as a whole. Black people suffer most from violent crime. So if this bill reduces disincentives to commit crime, or makes it possible for dangerous criminals to get out and commit more crimes, that will hurt black people most.

More than half of all murder victims in Virginia are black. So letting murderers out early would harm black people most, by reducing disincentives to commit murder, which disproportionately afflicts black people, and by reducing the deterrent to commit murder.

Maryland has more generous sentence credits than Virginia does, as supporters of the senate version of this bill have noted. But is that a good thing? Maryland also has a violent crime rate more than double Virginia’s. Maryland has a violent crime rate of 468.7 per 100,000 people, according to USA Today, compared to a violent crime rate of only 200 per 100,000 in Virginia. Many attribute this to Maryland letting violent criminals out of prison faster than Virginia.

In 2019, ABC’s channel 7 discussed how Maryland's Montgomery County has twice the "violent crime rate" as "neighboring Fairfax County," even though the two counties are demographically a lot a like and once had the same crime rate back in the 1970s. That was attributed to the fact "that the Maryland Judiciary is, generally speaking, more lenient on criminal defendants" and Virginia’s "harsh sentences," which are "a huge deterrent" to crime. Virginia has kept violent criminals in prison longer than Maryland does in recent years, and has a much lower violent crime rate as a result.

Virginia's tougher laws against crime save lives, including many black lives. Cutting the murder rate disproportionately helps black people. In 2015, "Black men ... made up 52% of all murder victims" in America, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. See NCJRS, "Homicide", at pg. 1 (https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/ncvrw/2017/images/en_artwork/Fact_Sheets/2017NCVRW_Homicide_508.pdf).

As the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes, violent crimes are committed mostly between members of the same racial group, and this is true for "rape or sexual assault," "simple assault," "aggravated assault," and indeed, "all types of violent crime except robbery." (See Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012-2015). Similarly, PolitiFact noted that between 2010 and 2013, "92 percent of blacks who were murdered were killed by other blacks."

Whatever racial bias there may be in the War on Drugs, isn't usually there when it comes to violent crimes. White murderers are actually more likely to be incarcerated than black murderers, due to lower clearance rates for violent crime in the black community, according to articles like this NPR article: https://www.npr.org/local/309/2019/10/09/768552458/chicago-s-dismal-murder-solve-rate-even-worse-when-victims-are-black

Murderers of all races should serve at least 85% of their sentences, and receive only the sentence credits available under current law, not expanded credits. Letting murderers out earlier (or even just black murderers) would make this situation even worse, and result in black victims being even more shortchanged, by reducing disincentives to commit murder, and reducing the deterrent effect of prison sentences by letting inmates out early, which would increase the murder rate. Remember, as PolitiFact pointed out, 92% of blacks who are murdered are killed by other blacks, so even releasing a black murderer can harm other black people.

So it was good to hear that this bill was apparently amended on September 4 to remove people who commit first and second-degree murder from its expanded sentence credits for early release.

Shortening sentences also makes it easier for criminals to get out and resume preying on potential victims. The National Bureau of Economic Research notes that longer sentences "reduce crime" by keeping inmates locked up and away from potential victims, citing research in the Journal of Law & Economics about the effects of California's Proposition 8, which apparently reduced the crime rate for covered crimes by 20%.

Shaliah alston writes:

This bill should and needs to include everyone. It’s not fair that y’all took people out I understood about not including the sex offenders and that’s fine. But everyone else is not who they was once before. My husband committed a crime 14yrs who he is no longer the same person that he was when he was 15-16yrs old he has grown and learned from his mistake and to see that y’all don’t think everyone deserves a second chance is total bull shit. This is the new day slavery. But I don’t think y’all see the problem that y’all had cause until it’s to late

David French writes:

This bill should not exclude FIRST TIME violent offenders. They definitely deserve another chance. I am not sure why these would be excluded. It should be for repeat violent offenders excluded.

Prisoners Wife that cares writes:

I am in support of this bill. Jesus teaches us forgiveness and for the a lot of prisoners they have rehabilitated themselves but the DOC and legislation has made it difficult to give these guys any hope or second chances.

Think about it your young you do something stupid you get punished but now you sit no one will give you a second chance even though you have matured and truly showed you deserve it by you actions. In a corrupt system where they have treated you worse than dogs and make sure you dont have a voice.

For us in our situation intercity, unable to afford a good lawyer, and race played a part in the ridiculous sentence thats was given for no one getting hurt and no weapon involved in a robbery. Yet they laid down a charge of 50 years (which is more than most murders). 16 years later and many tries in court due to newly discovered evidence, nothing but defeated hope.

Most inmates age out of crime. Yet still in Virginia we don't give them a second chance due to unlawful length of sentencing and not having anything in place to give them hope.

I only support this bill for the ones that DESERVE it. It has to be earned.

Fred Woehrle writes:

This is a bad bill if it ends up including violent offenders. The purpose of the criminal justice system is to deter violent crimes from being committed in the first place, not just to forgive offenders after they commit crimes as some of the comments above suggest.

To deter crimes, stiff sentences are often necessary. Deterrence works: Virginia has a violent crime rate less than half Maryland's crime rate (200 per 100,000 vs. 468.7 per 100,000) even though the two states are similar in many ways -- both quite prosperous by national standards -- and Maryland is even more affluent. This is because Maryland lets inmates out of jail earlier than Virginia does, and has more generous sentence credits leading to early release than Virginia does. Maryland's Montgomery County and Virginia's Fairfax are strikingly similar in demographic and economic terms, yet Montgomery County has twice Fairfax's crime rate, as Channel 7 reported in “Why is Montgomery County’s violent crime rate twice as high as neighboring Fairfax County," which you can find on the Internet. Channel 7 pointed to differences in "sentences" as part of the reason why crime is lower in Virginia's Fairfax County than in neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland.

Virginia's lower crime rate has saved thousands of lives over the years, mostly black lives. Over half all murder victims in Virginia and Maryland are African-American. Nationally, about half of all murder victims are African-American. The percentage is even higher in Virginia and in Maryland. If black lives matter, then this bill should not include murderers and rapists among its beneficiaries.

Letting out career criminals can also drive up the crime rate, harming public safety. As Daniel Kessler and Steven Levitt found in their study "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," longer sentences work in reducing the crime rate. Their study, available on the internet, examined "California's Proposition 8 which imposed sentence enhancements for a selected group of crimes. In the year following its passage, crimes covered by Proposition 8 fell by more than 10 percent relative to similar crimes not affected by the law, suggesting a large deterrent effect. Three years after the law comes into effect, eligible crimes have fallen roughly 20-40 percent compared to non-eligible crimes. This large deterrent effect suggests that sentence enhancements, and may be more cost-effective than is generally thought."

If not kept in prison, a career criminal can inflict great economic harm every year, far more than the cost of jailing that offender. Two decades ago, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology published a study estimating that there were "$165,000 in victim costs per year of a criminal’s career" for an average "career criminal,” including "lost wages and medical bills" and "lost quality of life to victims."

Sabrina Jenkins writes:

I AM 100% IN SUPPORT OF THIS BILL. I PERSONALLY JUST WISHED IT CAME INTO EFFECT EARLIER LIKE JANUARY 2021, SO OUR LOVED ONES COULD COME HOME EARLIER. ALSO IT GIVES MORE INMATESTIME FOR D.O.C TO ET THE PAPERWORK STARTED AND FINISHED SO OUR LOVED ONES ARE RELEASED BECAUSE ALOT COME COME HOME BEFORE JULY 2021 IF THE EFFECTIVE DATE WAS PRIOR.

Sabrina Jenkins writes:

Also I agree this bill should be for non-violent offenders.

Sara writes:

I would agree with you there Fred. However, when there’s comparisons to a white man versus a black man for the same crime, a black man is usually given double sometimes even triple the time of a white man. A “violent” crime can be someone with a water gun threatening a person, that’s usually a minimum of 10 years. The punishment for African Americans commuting a crime is extremely harsh compared to a white man so yes sir agree with the bill included violent criminals but there needs to be some type of exemptions in place so there aren’t just murders and rapist running around through our cities.

Fred Woehrle writes:

Sentences for murder and other violent crimes are pretty similar in Virginia regardless of the race of the perpetrator.

That seems to be true in other states as well: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2873760

And in the federal system: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=174599

But there does seem to be racial bias in police stops, which can lead to drug arrests:
https://5harad.com/papers/100M-stops.pdf

The War on Drugs is far more influenced by racism than arrests for violent crimes. That's because drugs are a victimless crime committed by so many people, and with no victim to report it, that police have to use their discretion about how to arrest. And discretion can be used in a discriminatory fashion. As Justice Powell once said, the power to be lenient is the power to discriminate. And occasionally racist police fabricate drug cases against innocent black people, as happened in Tulia.

That racism is one more problem with sentencing drug offenders. And a possible reason to grant drug offenders early release, or expanded sentencing credits.

But not most violent criminals, like murderers. Police exercise much less discretion in responding to violent crimes like homicide. They aren't going to ignore a murder because of the race of the perpetrator or victim. They will try to make an arrest for murder, regardless.

So there is much less racism in arrests and sentences for violent crime.

The differences in incarceration rates for violent crime are mostly due to differences in the crime rate, not racism.

There are huge differences between the black murder rate and the white murder rate. As the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has noted, “Homicide rates have consistently been at least ten times higher for blacks aged 10-34 years compared with whites in the same age group between 1995 and 2015.”
See https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(18)31907-X/pdf

Because most murders are committed against a person of the same race as the perpetrator, black people suffer most from murder. Most black homicide victims are killed by other Black people. 89% of all black homicide victims were killed by a black perpetrator, between 2000 and 2009, according to PolitiFact. So reducing the incarceration rate for homicide would harm black victims most.

The Asian violent crime rate is much lower than the white murder rate, which is why so few Asians are in prison. That's not due to racism in favor of Asians. Few cops are Asian. It's due to Asians not committing many violent crimes. (55% of people in state prison are there for violent crimes).

To deter violent crimes, lengthy sentences can be essential. Deterrence seems to work. Virginia has a violent crime rate under half of Maryland's, even though the two states are similar in many ways. But they are very different in sentencing: Maryland lets inmates out of jail earlier than Virginia does, and releases far more inmates before the end of their sentence through things like good-behavior credits. Maryland's Montgomery County and Virginia's Fairfax are demographically quite similar, yet Montgomery County has twice Fairfax's crime rate, as Channel 7 notes in the story on the web, “Why is Montgomery County’s violent crime rate twice as high as neighboring Fairfax County." People involved in the justice system point to differences in sentencing a reason why crime is lower in Fairfax than in Montgomery.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Your evidence of the lack of bias in sentences for violent crime is from 30 years ago, and the other is a paper entitled "No Racism in the Justice System," and dates from 26 years ago. The very title of the latter paper is absurd. It has been cited only a couple of dozen times in the intervening years, and most of those times in the 1990s — that paper left no apparent impact. The other fared no better.

A literal 30 seconds of research yielded Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences (MM Rehavi, SB Starr - Journal of Political Economy, 2014), cited 238 times, which concluded:

Across the distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than those of comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors’ initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Ceteris paribus, the odds of black arrestees facing such a charge are 1.75 times higher than those of white arrestees.

You should not cherry-pick little-known, ancient papers to prove the irrelevance of racism in a justice system in which the role of racism is well-known and well-documented.

Sampere writes:

Please don't release any violent offenders early.

T walters writes:

This bill should include ALL OFFENDERS! Everyone deserves a second chance, considering we are talking about something as important as their lives. Everybody's situation and circumstance is different and should be looked at that way, not classified as a whole. Some were young and dumb, or influenced by drugs, or at the wrong place at the wrong time. Every situation is not cut and dry as you may think and I believe they deserve a second chance at life if they are rehabilitated.
Please let this bill include ALL OFFENDERS. Their lives and families lives depend on it.

Candice Green writes:

I support this bill on behalf of my brother. Inmates in VADOC deserve right to come home sooner to their families especially with the pandemic going on. He has kids that are young and if he has to do the time given to him then they will be grown when he is free. These men and women have kids that need them more. I can tell by talking to my brother on the phone that he has learned from his mistakes and he is ready to change his life for the best.

Bsamy writes:

2020 general session identified a version of this bill as having merit to revisit in 2021, so we, and the DOC, have known this was in the works for some time. There's no reason this can't start being implemented in some fashion or some stages before 2022. Prioritize groups and work through: nonviolent; non-dealing; work up to reviewing first offense violent offenders, etc.
The point of a special session is to see more immediate action and progress.
Committees and the DOC can study it endlessly and without oversight, no doubt, will prolong it unnecessarily or even indefinitely.
Make all this work towards reform mean something.

Bsamy writes:

Oops, meant that for SB5034... ;-)

Concerned about the 9/18 Amendment to HB5148 writes:

I cannot believe the SENATE changed this bill to a 2022 recommendation today! How INSENSITIVE! From such a "privileged" group. This is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE MESSAGE to VIRGINIANS and a pretty cowardly move

Carrie writes:

I think the hb5148 should be passed but it should still have level 1 with the charge free inmates getting extra days taken off since its really an accomplishment for them to stay charge free for so long. Especially when someone gets sentenced for 20 years for a first offence on a charge. These non criminal inmates have looked forward to this bill and with all the changes taking extra time away that this bill was giving then his frustrating to the loved ones on the outside. This bill for non criminal inmates is really looking for this bill to come home after being changed there lives around after serving 12 years.

Dana writes:

This bill is fair and will reward good behavior and self-improvement. Please pass this bill. The Senate wants to delay this bill’s enactment until 2022 for unfounded reasons. Other states have proven the benefit of more rehabilitate and less incarcerate. Longer sentences are of no value to those that have not committed murder, rape, or manslaughter by studies. Please pass this bill with enactment date of July 1, 2021.

Emmie Bea writes:

mr Fred Woehrle.... please get a life!!!! Respectfully all I see is your comments on here taking up all the space speaking on ppl you’ve never met in your life! Some of these ppl have been unfairly prosecuted by certain jurisdictions that have been proven to be unfair and unjust! I’m sure you know that this something that has happened to many of these ppl that are incarcerated. How would you feel it was your love one who has been incarcerated over 20 years for something that he should only recieved 1/4 of that time. Reading your comment they are very biased and unfair.

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