Prisoners; conditional release, sentence credits. (SB5034)

Introduced By

Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) with support from 8 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Midlothian), Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston), Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Release of prisoners. Provides that any person serving a sentence imposed upon a conviction for a felony offense, other than a Class 1 felony, who is terminally ill is eligible for consideration by the Parole Board for conditional release. The bill also provides that any person serving such sentence (i) who is 65 years or age or older and has served at least five years of the sentence imposed or (ii) who is 60 years of age or older and has served at least 10 years of the sentenced imposed is eligible for consideration by the Parole Board for conditional release without the need to petition the Parole Board. The bill also establishes a four-level classification system for the awarding and calculation of earned sentence credits. The bill 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. The Department of Corrections (the Department) would report annually on the number of inmates released pursuant to the earned sentence credit provisions who commit a criminal offense subsequent to release. The provisions of the bill related to earned sentence credits have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022. The bill directs the Department to convene a workgroup to study the effect of those provisions and report to the General Assembly by July 1, 2022. Read the Bill »


09/17/2020: In Committee


08/14/2020Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 08/18/20 20200695D
08/14/2020Referred to Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services
08/18/2020Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
08/18/2020Reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services (8-Y 7-N) (see vote tally)
08/18/2020Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations
08/31/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB5034)
09/03/2020Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
09/09/2020Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
09/09/2020Reported from Finance and Appropriations with substitute (10-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
09/09/2020Committee substitute printed 20201151D-S1
09/10/2020Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
09/15/2020Read second time
09/15/2020Reading of substitute waived
09/15/2020Committee substitute agreed to 20201151D-S1
09/15/2020Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB5034S1
09/16/2020Read third time and passed Senate (21-Y 16-N) (see vote tally)
09/16/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB5034S1)
09/17/2020Placed on Calendar
09/17/2020Read first time
09/17/2020Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice


Haley Anderson writes:

I support this bill to include ALL inmates, even violent

Isaiah Cameron writes:

I support this bill 100%. It would help a lot of people.

Dorothea Tyree writes:

I support this bill and hope that they will include rehabilitation for all offenders.

Laura Jackson writes:


Harlee Grandle writes:

Second chances for nonviolent and “violent” offenders!!! I support this bill for ALL offenders!!!!

Amanda Chandler writes:

I 100% support this bill. Let's get them rehabilitated and get them out to be productive contributors to society! Get them home with their families!!

Joanne writes:

This bill needs to go back to its original form! Earned sentence credits should be for ALL and a select few!!

Joanne writes:

This bill needs to go back to its original form! Earned sentence credits should be for ALL and NOT a select few!!

Debra Estep Turner writes:

Yes, ALL should have the chance to earn an earlier way home to their families!!

Tonya Wright writes:

This book should be for all inmates who display rehabilitated behavior.

Kimberlin C writes:

Excellent Job Senator Boysko and patrons- very positive step in criminal justice reform in VA. While it does not include all, getting a portion pass for nonviolent offenders is a great opportunity compared to prior failed bills which offered no opportunity for any. Let’s get through this one! Great work

Melissa G writes:

I support this bill for ALL OFFENDERS! Violent and nonviolent.

Ben writes:

If you want criminals back with their families maybe they should have obeyed the law to begin with. Non-Violent criminals ok but violent give me a break. Wonder if you would feel the same way if you or your daughter was raped or murdered.

Melissa M writes:

I support this bill. I’m sure some offenders are very sorry for what they have done. Please give the a break.

Tissiana Woody writes:

the father of my children has been incarcerated for 15 years , and he has been in good behavior since 2009 , I don't see a need to keep him away from his kids any further

Bonnie W writes:

If the bill is only going to include non-violent offenders, maybe they should look at what constitutes a violent offense. Should someone be charged as a violent offender due to an alcohol related offense that resulted in a death caused by another vehicle's action during the incident? Why do they not look at and treat alcoholism accidents the same as they do with drug offenders, who damage so many more lives present and future? They are both illnesses caused by addiction but are not looked at the same way. There are violent offensives toward another person directly with intent, but not all considered violent cases apply. For this reason, include all, but to be determined on violent cases by circumstance.


I support this bill for all Non Violent Offenders!! Child predators, rapists and murderers should NOT have this option..You are a sick individual if you think that a CHILD PREDATOR AND A RAPIST SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO COME HOME..

Zouaoui oualia writes:

I suppot this bills

Adrianna La'Flame writes:

I support this bill 100%. Over the years people change and deserve a second chance at living a productive crime free life!

jessica bradberry writes:

I support this bill!!!!!! Please give the prisoners a break and let them get back home to their families!!!!

Bruce Flannagan Sr writes:

I support this Bill for all but sex crime offenders cause its been proven they can not be rehabilitated except by chemical castration. So if they want to agree to that then I would be fine with them also. Attempted murder & murder is a no go. You took or attempted to take a life and should have to give yours to every day that you were sentenced to and not one day less.

Devon writes:

Bruce and Bethany,

My sentiments exactly. Pass this bill for all BUT murderers (including attempted murderers) and sex offenders.

Christina Moore writes:

I support this bill for non violent and violent offenders.

Tina Torain writes:

I support this bill!

Jaime gray writes:

Please give these offenders a chance not all of them are bad people some of them were young and not wise to the ways of the world . Or were their.own worse enemy ! Their lives matter too

Fred Woehrle writes:

A supporter of the bill was quoted in the Virginian-Pilot saying that Maryland has this sort of expanded sentence credits. That may not be a reason to support the bill, although it is a reason not to expand this bill to allow murderers or rapists to benefit from it (thankfully, the current version of SB 5034 excludes them, as it should continue to do so).

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 Virginia should not try to be more like Maryland.

Sentence credits effectively shorten sentences. 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.

40 years ago, Virginia’s Fairfax County had a similar crime rate to similarly wealthy Montgomery County, Md. But that changed after prison sentences got longer in Virginia, and Virginia largely abolished parole. Fairfax County now has much less crime than Montgomery County.

In 2019, ABC Channel 7 discussed how Montgomery County had 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.

Some types of career criminals should be excluded from this legislation, too. 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." Adjusting for inflation, that would be over $260,000 today.

Fred Woehrle writes:

To clarify my comment above -- this bill currently excludes murderers and rapists from its expanded sentence credit provisions, but it does NOT exclude them from its conditional release provisions for terminally ill or disabled inmates (except for Class 1 felons, which include a few, but not most, premeditated murderers -- like cop-killers, but not most premeditated murders).

As my comment above explains, I think it is correct to exclude murderers and rapists from the expanded sentence credits. States that let murderers and rapists out earlier than Virginia does have higher crime rates, higher murder rates, and higher rape rates. Maryland has more than double Virginia's violent crime rate. I also think that it is important not to let career criminals out early, given the huge cost many of them impose on society when not incarcerated ($260,000 per year in current dollars, according to a 1998 study).

Fred Woehrle writes:

From a racial justice perspective, it is important to keep murderers and rapists out of this bill, and not let them be released early. That's because so many victims of violent crimes like murder are African-American.

Half of all murder victims are black. Letting murderers out early could harm black people most, by reducing penalties for murder, which disproportionately takes the lives of black people.

In Virginia, over half of homicide victims are black men. 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 (

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 users are only harming themselves. And drug dealers often sell drugs to people of different races. Property crimes also are less committed against people of the same race than violent crimes are.

Madison writes:

I support this bill with the inclusion of SOME violent offenders. Not all “violent crimes” are created equal. A robber is guilty of stealing material things, but not necessarily of physically harming anyone. A murderer, on the other hand, has snuffed out someone’s life for good! And a rapist or child molester has physically violated someone. This to say, some violent crimes are MUCH worse than others. Perhaps apply a classification system to violent felons based on their crime and make some eligible for an increase in Earned Good Credits.

Sampere writes:

No violent criminals should be released earlier. That will increase violent crime and harm public safety.

JJ writes:

Pass this bill!!! To many young adults are incarcerated for far to long.

Jennifer goodbred writes:

I think is a good bill for the non violent offenders and most are because of drugs. I don’t believe violent offenders like murder.. rape... child abuse should be offered this.

Nisey writes:

I think this bill should be passed. Reevaluate the inmates. Everyone deserves a second chance. People change, as do non criminals and everyday living people.They can be productive, if given the opportunity to do so. The sentence guidelines should grant favor for early release, because there are some positive inmates that have really been striving to follow the guidelines who honestly deserve a second chance, that could be a positive attribute for society. Not all institutionalized criminals are criminals. Please consider passing the bill.

Monèt writes:

I support this bill, I think non violent & violent offenders who have worked their custody level down

Messiah writes:

I support I support I support!!!!!!

Dr. Danette M. Vercher writes:

QUESTION: In regards to SB 5034 Would a Level 1 Malicious Wounding Offender in the NOT excluded or excluded category of this Bill. If so, and they've been incarcerated for 11 years, and have 4 more years on the books; are they eligible for release??

TYRONE writes:

I truly truly support this bill

Jack writes:

This bill shows growth in our society from "lock them up and throw away the key" to giving people a chance to prove they are worthy of parole. Violent or non-violent people in prison should prove they have followed the rules and have taken various courses along with attending AA or NA meetings (for addicts and alcoholics). People should not be given a "get out of jail" card just because they have done the amount of time to be eligible for parole. My son received the maximum sentence of 20 years which was way above the sentencing guideline. He completed every program offered in the jail along with 13 character witness statements describing his successes and good nature. The judge ignored all mitigating evidence which is the "lock them up and throw away the key" mentality. With the parole system he might have a better chance at proving himself and get back to his family where he belongs.

Jack writes:

Sorry. I posted this under the wrong bill. But the sentencing credits apply to everything I wrote in my original post.

Post a Public Comment About this Bill

if you have one

(Limited HTML is OK: <a>, <em>, <strong>, <s>)