Earned sentence credits; repeals four-level classification system for awarding & calculation, etc. (HB735)

Introduced By

Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) with support from 8 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Del. Jason Ballard (R-Pearisburg), Del. Rob Bloxom (R-Accomack), A.C. Cordoza, Del. Anne Ferrell Tata (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Wendell Walker (R-Lynchburg), Del. Bill Wiley (R-Winchester), Del. Wren Williams (R-Stuart), Del. Scott Wyatt (R-Mechanicsville)

Progress

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

Description

Department of Corrections; earned sentence credits. Repeals the four-level classification system for the awarding and calculation of earned sentence credits currently set to go into effect on July 1, 2022. Under current law, a maximum of 4.5 sentence credits may be earned for each 30 days served. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
01/11/2022Committee
01/11/2022Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/22 22100841D
01/11/2022Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/25/2022Impact statement from DPB (HB735)
01/29/2022Assigned Courts sub: Subcommittee #1
01/31/2022Subcommittee recommends reporting (5-Y 3-N)
02/07/2022Reported from Courts of Justice (11-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2022Referred to Committee on Appropriations
02/08/2022Assigned App. sub: Transportation & Public Safety
02/09/2022Subcommittee recommends reporting (5-Y 3-N)
02/09/2022Reported from Appropriations (12-Y 10-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2022Read first time
02/14/2022Read second time and engrossed
02/15/2022Read third time and passed House (51-Y 49-N)
02/15/2022VOTE: Passage (51-Y 49-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2022Constitutional reading dispensed
02/16/2022Referred to Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services
02/23/2022Racial and ethnic impact statement from JLARC (HB735)
02/25/2022Rereferred from Rehabilitation and Social Services (8-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2022Rereferred to Judiciary
02/28/2022Senate committee, floor amendments and substitutes offered
02/28/2022Reported from Judiciary with substitute (10-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2022Committee substitute printed 22107093D-S1
02/28/2022Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations
03/03/2022Passed by indefinitely in Finance and Appropriations (11-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: SB578.

Comments

Kenneth crawford writes:

This bill totally kills any incentive an inmate has to better themselves. I can see not letting hardened criminals out early but not non violent prisoners. A lot of prisoners have finished college or attending college and are ready to contribute to society. Don’t treat all prisoners as a threat to society. Even the DOC will agree with me. They can’t handle the overloaded prison population when a large number should be released. I would challenge Mr. Bell to visit a Level1 or 2 facility and see first hand that all inmates don’t need to be there. Most have long sentences because they could not hire a good attorney. If Mr. Bell would like I will visit a lower level facility with him. Thanks for the attention of my letter.

Fred Woehrle writes:

This bill seems like a mixed bag, and will go nowhere in the state senate, at least not unless it is amended.

It is overly punitive toward drug offenders, who should be let out earlier because it costs a lot to incarcerate them, and some of them (drug users as opposed to drug dealers) are mostly harming themselves, not other people.

But the bill is right to make it harder to release thieves, fraudsters, and other criminals covered by the bill. These offenders should NOT get more than Level 1 credits unless they have done something really exemplary, not just the modest acceptable behavior they have to exhibit under current law. Current law is too permissive in granting sentencing credits to thieves and fraudsters.

Maybe this bill should be amended to exclude drug offenders from its reach. Maybe it would have some small chance of passage if it were so amended. Absent such an amendment, it seems dead on arrival in the state senate.

This bill will die in a Senate committee, in its current form.

Cynthia K. Miller writes:

Senator McDougle,
What a cruel bill! Such a bill is what gives Republicans a bad name. Follow the lead of compassionate Republicans like Mike Cherry and have mercy on fellow human beings. Leave HB5148 as currently enacted for nonviolent prisoners. Think of their families, too, for God’s sake. HB5148 is as important now as it was last year for prisoners exposed to and contracting COVID-19. The virus continues. Staff shortage has magnified the crisis in Virginia’s prison system, risking the lives of staff and offenders. Family visitation is once again cancelled. Leave nonviolent people alone and allow them back into society so they can heal from the trauma that has taken place in their lives and their families’ lives and can once again become contributing members. These are human beings, not cattle. They are going to be release anyway. Again, why so cruel?

Sally Webster writes:

It’s sad that you want to repeal a bill that will afford those inmates that spent way too long in the system due to the excessive sentencing standards set forth in Virginia. Inmates that would not be there had the commonwealth hadn’t placed excessive charges against them. Why do you want to keep these non violent able bodied people imprisoned when they can be out working and helping their families? It makes no sense and you should be ashamed to stand up and state you are working for the people. Last time I checked inmates are people too.

Kellie Sorey writes:

This effort is sad on so many levels. Virginia has the highest incarceration rate in the United States and our prison incarceration rate continues to climb. In September of 2021, one quarter of the DOC positions were vacant. Many of these vacancies were correctional officers. This translates to unsafe conditions for Virginia's prisoners and VDOC employees. When we throw in all the extra issues as a result of COVID-19, the burden is significantly greater. When we factor in the roughly $22,000 Virginia taxpayers spend per inmate per year, clearly, we need to make some changes. HB5148, which is to go into effect July 1, is a common sense bill--one that takes many factors into consideration when determining a prisoner's earned sentence credit. It is one that, when (now "if") enacted, will enable only select nonviolent offenders to benefit from it. There are couple of other things to consider about this repeal. First, the implementation of HB5148 was delayed one year to give VDOC time to determine which inmates are eligible, to compute the earned credit for this population, and to ensure our prisons and jails are prepared for this move. So, this means taxpayers have been paying our state employees for this work, which may be all for naught? Secondly, there is to be a review of this new process by June 2023 to determine the overall efficacy of this change. This is a common sense strategy. Did it work? Are the results positive? What were the benefits and disadvantages to our taxpayers, VDOC employees, and our inmates? Did recidivism rates change, and if so, in which way? Now, we have Delegate Rob Bell introducing a bill to repeal a common sense bill. Bear in mind that in 2019, a less restrictive version of the bill had broad bipartisan support in 2019. I surely hope our elected leaders, regardless of political party, will keep HB5148 alive and well.

Tessa young writes:

Virginia already ruins enough peoples lives by their example. Instead of justly charging a person for the crime they committed. The commonwealth spends all their time finding ways to charge a person with more crimes. Spending hard earned money on attorneys in Virginia is a waste of a family’s money. By the time a person gets to court after spending a year I the local jail. The commonwealth has found a way to have the person arrested while in jail on made up charges. Once you appear the luncheons and conversations have take place with the presiding judge and the persons fate is set in stone. The judge, regardless of your behavior in the year spent goes along with the BS and your handed the maximum sentences on every charge. Now your life has changed. What should have been a misdemeanor has turned you into felonies. Your handed 16 years with 5 to serve
Out of the 16 -10 was for a phone call to your spouse . A domestic incident that you should not have been charged with turned to a felony on lies. Then a forced divorce by the commonwealth. So to say justice is being served is an understatement. Justice is being abused by the commonwealth!

TABITHA MACDONALD writes:

I feel as if the people who are opposing the rights of inmates and trying to take away the opportunity for them to prove that they have bettered themselves are people who have never had some one close to them locked up. Yes, they have made mistakes at some point in their lives and No not all inmates such as ( murders, rapist, child molesters) should be released early but instead of wasting all this time and money on keeping people with drug crimes or other nonviolent crimes locked up, why not come up with more programs to offer them to help them transition back into society. To me, it is so crazy that someone can hurt another person or a child and do less time then someone who is on drugs and committed a crime. The Justice system is extremely prejudice and unfair, leave it alone and let the law go into effect on July 2022. These are people just like you!

Calvin writes:

This is where politicking gets a bad name.
After lengthy amounts of time, over multiple GA sessions and bipartisan compromise, a representative wants to negate it all by repealing entirely? Just to show they're tough on crime? Regardless of the data and our own commissioned studies on the absolute cluster th VaDOC is? It's disrespectful to the process and the previous legislators.

It comes across as a low level political game and shouldn't be given any merit.

The fault lies with Northam and Moran though. Despite the JOINT committee COMPROMISING that this should have been implemented in Jan 2022, (rather than 7/2021 or 7/2022) Northam just rolled over to what the DOC wanted, claiming they needed more time. The compromise was wholely appropriate and the DOC absolutely had enough time to work in the timeframe.

Another example of how little integrity is involved w the DOC. Along with having very little, if any, independent oversight.

Look at the data. Look at the inconsistency of sentencing and the judicial system. Look at the GA's own studies. Look at the nonviolent, over-sentenced offenders affected by this and the lives being toyed with my this purily political maneuver.

Put your political party's soapbox away. Put your time and energy in meaningful legislation.

Return some dollop of integrity to our state Congress.

Amber Hottinger writes:

There is a difference between non violent and violent criminal's, drug users and drug dealers! Why take this away from non violent offenders?! I'm a domestic violence survivor; I'D RATHER A DRUG USER GET EARNED CREDIT THAN MY VIOLENT ABUSER!! Virginia is the most harsh state when it comes to handing down time, where I'm from I'm watching people get 10+ years on violations (non violent) because they took a plea deal from being deathly afraid of being cracked in the head by the justice system, and this credit is the only hope they have that remotely gives them hope!!!

Frances writes:

This Bill is heartbreaking and so inhuman, please let me start by saying this is REPEALING THE HB5148 GOD TIME EARNING CREDITS BILL the Passed in 2020 with an affected date of July1,2022 let me repeat EARNING CREDITS which mean they the residents of the Vadoc have to EARN it, so not everyone will receive these credits! Families have been waiting for this bill to take affect so they can be reunited with their loved ones! People inside are prison walls have been preparing for their return home, have gotten their DVM ID Pictures taken, applied for jobs, signed up for school, additionally I would like to add that restoring Hope inside our prison walls is very important since over 90 percent of people inside our prison are coming home so it’s better to incentivize them to become better citizens, safer prisons make for safer communities for that same reason!

I encourage everyone to oppose HB735

Brianna Brust writes:

This bill should not be passed. Every single person deserves to have hope for a second chance. Virginia has finally made some positive progress and you want to take it all away before it even begins? Shame on you!! We want a better, more fair system and this isn't it!!! I oppose this bill!!!

Liz writes:

I will never understand why this bill is such an issue. Every man and woman that it effects is coming out into society- regardless. Prison is to reform and retrain peoples way of thinking. Allow incentive for them to do better. If they screw up on the same charges, have them serve the remainder their first sentence along with their second.

No incentives. No parole.

But yet the Republican Party who morally claim to have conservative Christian views doesn’t believe in second chances? Crazy. Or maybe it’s that half of their inmates are actually innocent and took plea deals due to outrageous mandatory minimums so instead of potentially serving life in prison, they plead out on charges that they never actually committed and God forbid one of those people are released and the truth comes out and takes this joke of a system down.

Corrupt. Corrupt. Corrupt.

Jacqueline Jackson writes:

This is sad and distasteful that you wouldn't want people to get a second chance. Those inmates have family that love them and deserve to have a chance to make it right. Stop trying to always make a political statement and do what is right. Leave the bill as is and focus on other things. Like affordable childcare and sending out a stimulus check to struggling families. Do something worth a cause.

Kendra writes:

Repealing the Earned Sentence Credit law that passed in 2020 and is supposed to go into effect July 1, 2022 is outrageous. Republican leaders claim that it is because the VA DOC will have to spend more money to employ counselors, educators, etc. My question is WHY would we need to employ more people? The same people who would be eligible for earlier release are only getting out a year or two early at most. Those employees would’ve needed to be in place regardless of whether the original bill had been passed for earned sentence credits or not. Staffing has ALWAYS been an issue for VA DOC, this law certainly hasn’t created the issue. Prison is supposed to be about reform. How is there any incentive to reform their lives? Virginia has already done away with parole, so anyone sentenced within the last decade or so has no chance at that. Why are we taking away an EARNED incentive for non violent offenders? Virginia currently already over sentences non violent offenders as it is. Many of whom suffer from addiction or mental health disorders. Why don’t we start actually looking at presentencing reports and taking them into account before sentencing people to years for non violent crimes? Why aren’t we ordering more of them to treatment programs? Not to mention the amount of money the commonwealth would save by not having non violent offenders take up room in prisons for years. THIS Republican does not stand with HB 735!

Jeri Coburn writes:

I say leave it alone and the law go into effect. My son n law is in there for simple things, not like the murderers or child molesters,pulling more time then they are. He is ready to come back out into society and make a home for his family. Have them take therapy or classes of some sort to prove that they are ready for the real world. Therapy doesn’t hurt anyone and it actually helps them. I think the law should be left alone.

Hannah T. writes:

and just when i thought the state of Virginia couldn’t be more unforgiving, i come across a bill like this one. why is it that Virginia is always focused on taking steps BACKWARDS when it comes to prison reform? all this tells inmates and their families is “your loved one belongs there, and we’ll sit in our big comfortable chairs and watch them rot away behind those walls.”

is this really the way that the state of Virginia wants to be? harsh? unforgiving? cruel? quit taking steps backwards and open your minds before passing such an inhumane bill.

i encourage EVERYONE to make the RIGHT choice and oppose this bill, to help get Virginia on the right track, since it can’t do it itself as long as the republicans are in charge.

Demetrice writes:

It seems almost criminal to pass a bill just to repeal it. Simply because you don't think people who have shown they have been rehabilitated deserve to earn 15 days per month off their sentence. When the 4.5 days went into effect in 1995 it's was harsh then and it is now. These men and women deserve to come home they've earned it. It seems more and more like this is about your political agenda and privatizing prisons and even probation. Mr.Bell still your willing to subject these men and women to countless days of endangerment. Due to most of these prisons operating daily with as many as 15 employees not correctional officer's employees to 1550 inmates or more. Placing not only the staff in danger but these same people your attempting to deny relief. Higher levels still house inmates who should be on level 1 or 2. Due to covid haulting transfers as well as prisoner's of excellent conduct being considered as role models for other prisoner's. They help keep staff safe and themselves. But what happens when those same ones who qualify for the 15 for 30 are told they can't get this time off. What happens when they are subjected to harsh conditions. When they should have been home. What do you tell their families? Sorry does not fix it or justify something you should just leave alone. There 70,000 plus inmates in local jails and prisons here in Virginia. Please stop trying to undue the good things to justify more wrong thing's. Have compassion for all people and not just those you know.

Sheila Wimer writes:

Why am I not surprised? Instead of trying to help show that Virginia is open to giving seconds chances and doing reform for a corrupted system this bill wants to again kick them while they are already down. The sentencing in this state is ridiculous already the long term effects these sentencing has is sad.. instead of trying to take away why don’t you try to help try to give second chances . You have taken away parole refusing to give that back.. Let’s not forget everyday we all sun and God gives us chance after chance!!!

Jessica Jarvis writes:

I oppose this bill, out loved ones should have the right to earn more good time when they are trying to change their life. Virginia should not be a state that throws them in prison and throws away the key. Earning more good time will allow inmates to have a second chance at making a better life for themselves.

Jessica Jarvis writes:

I oppose this bill, our loved ones should have the right to earn more good time when they are trying to change their life. Virginia should not be a state that throws them in prison and throws away the key. Earning more good time will allow inmates to have a second chance at making a better life for themselves

Tiffany Mcdowney writes:

I oppose this bill, Why make it so hard for folks inside to get out and return to their families. Everyone deserves a second chance but I see Virginia wants to move backwards instead of moving forward. It has always been about money because keeping our LO’s inside Is All about keeping these prisons full.
Half are inside for taking deals because they couldn’t afford lawyers. Don’t undue everything that was done. This is sickening

Candace writes:

As someone who has a degree in Human Services, in my professional opinion, I feel as though eliminating the possibility of incarcerated individuals to have an incentive to better themselves is inhumane. This bill is in fact in violation of the eighth amendment that prohibits the federal government (and it’s states) from imposing cruel and unusual punishment. This bill says to these individuals that, “no matter what you do or how hard you work to change for the better, you will never be seen or acknowledged for it”. What kind of message are we sending to offenders who have found hope in becoming a better person?, not a good one. When I was inducted into my institute’s Honor Society, I found myself working harder to maintain my placement there, I found myself evolving into someone I never knew existed. Think about that when you think about the character of men and women who will eventually be released back into society.

Bianca J writes:

I feel as if those who are opposing the rights of inmates and trying to take away the opportunity for them to prove that they have bettered themselves are people who have never had some one close to them locked up. Yes, they have made mistakes, as we all have , at some point in their lives and granted we understand that some offenses need to require the full extent of their sentence but instead of wasting all this time and money on keeping people with drug crimes or other nonviolent crimes locked up, why not come up with more programs to offer them to help them transition back into society such as more extensive drug programs and rehab, mandatory trade course, family/parenting classes, etc. To me, it is so crazy that someone can hurt another person or a child and do less time then someone who is on drugs and committed another crime. The Justice system is extremely prejudice and unfair, and creating an over population is our prison system as it is. let the law that is set to go into effect on July 2022 go into effect and stop trying to change it. These are people just like you and I and they deserve the opportunity to have a second chance and to prove they are more than just their mistakes.

Val writes:

I am writing to voice my complete opposition to HB 735. The earned sentence credit expansion legislation was the first stage of reform to a broken system. I urge that you vote "NO" to HB 735 as it stands to undo much needed progress in Virginia's criminal justice system. 

Please permit my loved one and countless other men and women the opportunity to earn a reduction in their sentences according to current legislation that is set to go into effect in July. Earned sentence credit expansion further incentivizes individuals behind the walls to make positive choices each and every day. Everyone deserves a true second chance, and this can only be done by voting “NO” to HB 735.

Gail writes:

This bill says so much about many politicians, they don’t care about anyone except themselves. You have no compassion. You act as if you are perfect and have done nothing wrong. All of you politicians, lawyers, judges, students in criminal justice need to spend at least 30 days in prison. Perhaps then you would have some compassion. Those incarcerated are still human beings not animals. There are many inmates who work within the DOC; or go to school; or attend mental health groups (although there really isn’t any rehab); or other AA or addiction classes trying to better themselves. Then we have those politicians who continue to kick them when they are down and kick them when they are rising up. I am totally against our state moving backward. I am against this bill. The Governor himself said he was for ALL Virginians. That should include those incarcerated.

Belinda S writes:

I oppose this bill. It is unfair not to allow inmates to grow and improve and return to society. Taking away incentives to be better is completely wrong! Virgnia Prisons are a mess and the non-violent offenders have to become violent to survive in there. Many of the violent offenders became violent in prison. It has been proven that extreme sentencing terms are less are no more successful than reasonable ones. Taking a person, violent or non-violent and locking them up and throwing away the key is not the answer. These are people. Parole is necessary in Virginia. Good time earned is necessary in Virginia!!! Please do not pass this bill. Please give people a second chance at lives. This is not the answer.

Willow writes:

I oppose this , let these people have a chance , it's not given they earn it , please give those a second chance, thier families waiting a second chance , let them show they are people that want to change can change and stay changed

Sonnja Brown writes:

I Oppose this Bill. Vote No Good time is earned and during COVID Virginia offered no extra credit to any Incarcerated people. Good Time credit has given many people Hope for a future. Put in time and work into the problems that got people incarcerated to begin with. Create jobs, housing, and oppornitites. 2022 is a year to bring hope and new find ways to build stronger communities. Stop causing more harm.

Jolene writes:

Repealing this bill is absolutely disgraceful and heartbreaking at the same time. Virginia offers no incentive, there’s no parole and calling yourselves a ‘Department of ‘Corrections’ is a joke. Inmates do correct themselves, but where’s their second chance? You complain about the cost of running the DOC, but when their is an opportunity to release people, it doesn’t happen. What a waste of life’s and waste of money.
Their lives are important. Their families are important. Our opinions are important.

Claudea Ellis writes:

You should be ashamed, you really have no good reason other than because you can, this is no time for this, this bill requires pure understanding and , compassion , which seems you have neither, families want to be reunited, correctional facilities want to spend more time with their families, by having inmates that could very well go home prevents this, give these nonviolent inmates a chance, and I invite you to visit one of these facilities for yourself

Shayron Jones writes:

I have a loved one that's been in prison for 19yrs, almost 20yrs for a crime he did not commit. If this bill does not go through, he will be incarcerated for another 5yrs. I don't know if he has 5 more years to give DOC. He has kidney failure. He has not seen a specialist since he's been incarcerated this entire time. I ask you to please pass this bill. They inmates has earned these credits. Please have compassion for individuals who deserve this second Chance, please!

Shayron Jones writes:

PLEASE VOTE NOT! I truly don't understand how you expect someone to rehabilitate themselves, but not give credit for doing it. Imagine if it was your son, sister, or brother. Even parent that has high hopes of coming home. And then BOOM, someone has the power to change that in the blink of an eye. Please vote no. So many people are finally seeing a change in Virginia justice system. Please don't change this. VOTE NO!

Jen Wallace writes:

It shouldn’t even be a question to oppose HB735. HB5148 was passed and should go into effect July 2022 as planned. This is something that is EARNED not given. So many men and women turn their life around once behind those walls and they deserve a second chance. We all make mistakes in life or have done something we shouldn’t.

Monica Cali writes:

Hello. Please vote NO! First off HB5148 gave so many people on the inside and outside HOPE! That gave inmates a REASON to do good. It is EARNED TIME so give them a REASON to EARN it! Many inmates feel like they dont have a chance to get out early so they "act out" as many has told my incarcerated fiance "what do I have to lose" . Give them something to lose! Give them a chance to make themselves better so they can get out and be successful individuals. Let those who want to better themselves do so and come home early. Especially those serving time for "technicalities " and nonviolence crimes. Everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves. Please vote NO for HB735!

Mary writes:

Please vote NO
All inmates should be allowed to earn time credits. these credits are incentive to do better and work through programs that are given. The prisons are overcrowded and conditions are not good,so let them earn credits and lighten the load on the facilities and at the same time they better themselves and become contributing citizens. Please give these people a second chance,their lives matter and so do their families. Maybe take the time to visit one of Virginias prisons and see why these credits are so important to bring down the number of incarcerated .
Again ,please VOTE NO !!!!

Amy Scott writes:

I oppose this bill, this bill will take away hope from non-violent offenders that deserve a second chance. There are so many offenders that are serving unjust sentences for probation violations or that were just dealt an unjust sentence period. The prisons are overcrowded unsafe and we waist a lot of money on keeping these offenders when they deserve a second chance in society. I see no reason to take a bill that is so well thought out and worked on by so many before we even have a chance to see the positive that could come from the HB 5148. So I oppose the HB735 and hope that the Senate VOTES NO TO THIS BILL!

Hilary Robinson writes:

I opposed this bill, as someone who knows that it gives hope and a ray of sunshine to currently serving inmates who are non-violent and no threat to society, they just want to go home to their families. Republicans do nothing for criminal Justice reform or to help people who have been stuck in a cycle and a system that has done nothing but destroy many families lives. Repealing the good time earned sentence credits is a huge mistake and it's a step backward for criminal Justice reform in virginia. It's absolutely disgraceful that Rob Bell would put this forward. We all knew that if a Republican Governor came into power that you would all chomp at the bit to undo any good done as far as criminal Justice reform here in Virginia. And we're seeing that play out right now with things like this. How about each and every one of you concentrate on your constituents and things that will help Virginians. And stop criminalizing the poor just because you can.

NANCY PIERCE writes:

I am unconditionally opposed to this bill. It is reprehensible that the Republicans even brought this to the table. This moves Virginia further back into the dark ages of oppression and UNcivil rights. The self-declared Christian right is most definitely NOT Christian or they would support giving people a second chance. Why do we want to continue to bloat our Virginia prisons? Why does our state want to continue to spend billions of dollars to support an inept and ill-functioning system to the tune of $1,364,068,980? Yes, $1.36B - BILLION dollars. This is more of the oppression that our state's history sadly reveals. Everyone deserves a second chance and HB 5148 gives people that opportunity. The state has the opportunity to be humane not oppressive. Please do NOT support HB 735!

Daniel L writes:

Vote yes to repeal
Those that are screaming no probably see no issues with the original proposal because they have no idea what goes into this. HB5148 Is not reform. If you want to reform crime punishment I am all for it but should be done at the sentence not on good time earnings. Most don't understand good time earnings to begin with so this seems like a logical step. What it does is creates a multifaceted computation that will cost the state more in litigation. Change the law and sentence guidelines if you want true reform.

Calvin writes:

Daniel L, the ones who are "screaming no" are the ones who have witnessed and experienced some taste of an often out of balance judicial system, with frequent offensive sentences, and an absolute indifferent DOC that has more interest in warehousing and institutionalizing than rehabilitating.

The ones "screaming no" are physically sick from seeing non violent, low level, even victimless criminals, pull more time than murderers and pedophiles.

Maybe, the ones "screaming no" think it's ridiculous that people are pulling time for crimes that aren't even considered crimes anymore? And there is no reasonable route to sentence modification.

I agree with you, reform needs to be done from the root as well, but lives have been ruined from many levels of injustice in the meantime and the system could stand a bit of pain in trying to rectify it.

Our system, in many ways, is archaic. It needs serious oversight. From outside it's own ranks.

But no, don't repeal good time, you'd be taking steps backwards. Review it if you want when there's some semblance of reform in place, but don't let the injustices continue while VA drags it's feet.

Terry Cross writes:

My son has been incercrated for 8 yrs for 2 shake bottles. That's more time than most people get for murder. He has got his ged while in there he works everyday. I am so proud of the man my son has become. I hope and pray this HB735 gets dead in the Senate. He is no threat to anyone. He was young and made a bad choice. Drugs was his only down fall. He has grown and learned from his mistakes. Please give these people a second chance to be back with their family's. They are not bad people.

Michelle C. writes:

Repealing the bill is ridiculous and completely heartless! There is absolutely no incentive for any inmate to better themselves. They are treated as if their life does not matter, worse than any caged animal. The VA DOC has no compassion for any of them, no matter their charge. The judicial system is so flawed and while all the judges and lawyers all eat lunch and play golf together when it comes to sentences being given, they hand those out based on their moods and play with our loved ones lives. It doesn't matter to those who are wishing to repeal the earned good time because they get to go home to their families. They are not judged by their past but they do forget they are not perfect themselves. We need to help our inmates NOT set them up for failure.

Jenna writes:

This bill is horrible and inhumane! The sentences in the US and in VA especially are way too harsh in many (prob most of them) cases and inmates who have proved that they have learned from their mistakes deserve a 2nd chance! I don’t understand what human being would even introduce this bill and try to repeal the HB5148… I hope and pray that democrats do their job and keep our faith in humanity. Families been waiting for the July 1st to come for over a year now please don’t take this away from so many families.

Marty Cross writes:

The republicans that are trying to repeal this bill it's heartless. And the sad thing about it is they have probably done things in their lives that would have put them in there the only difference in our loved ones i republicans is our loved ones got caught. I hope and pray Democrats do their job.

Hilary Meador writes:

My husband literally is in prison sitting there waiting to get out due to the good time he has built up. He is currently serving time for...get this...a weed charge! Weed!!!! Something that is completely legal now in the state of Virginia. Sitting in prison for something that is now a small fine is ridiculous and now you are trying to pass a bill that does the complete opposite??! My husband should already be out of prison and nobody in government seems to understand these are real people, not just inmates. I can't even believe it passed through the house. My husband has accumulated so much good time, has done every college course offered, held a job the whole time, and has never got into trouble for his whole time in prison. Regardless, he should be out already.

Kate M. writes:

"2. That the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2023 Session of the General Assembly."

This is the very last item on the amendment/substitute, currently rereferred to Finance & Appropriations. Can anyone explain what this means? Does it mean the law enacted last year would now have postponed implementation until next year OR only the changes provided for in the substitution would go in to effect in 2023?

Elle Jay writes:

KATE M.
That is my exactbsame question as well.
Please share any new details.

Daniel S Linkous writes:

Calvin I agree with you that people are serving way more time than they need to on these crimes. Hilary I also agree with you that those on weed charges should have their case reheard, reduced, thrown out, or something being that some things are now no longer criminal offenses. I support a reform of the system 100%. I just don't agree that this will have the impact that people think it will have. Good time is not prison reform. Laws and guidelines for sentences need to be changed so that when someone gets in trouble its based off of that offense and criminal history only comes into play when there is repeat offenses such as the same way we treat DWI and Larceny charges now. DO AWAY WITH PROBATION!!! violations of probation clog up our prison system period with little to no rehabilitation. It is ridiculous to sentence someone to 20 years, suspend 18 of those years to be served on probation. Good time earning does not equal reform because with the different class levels jails can choose which level a charge is calculated at as it is the Sheriffs discretion. The only ones that will receive the maximum good time earning level are those that is awarded it, same as it is now. You want reform then fight for reform and don't let a good time earning level blind you in to thinking your getting a good deal. This is smoke and mirrors so that everyone will forget about true reform.

Kathleen Ann Wilson writes:

I would plead with all to leave the original bill as it was passed. It was intended for offenders that have been doing well with no problems and most even get higher education while in prison and I for one believe the ones that have been doing all the right things such as working, going to school, not getting in trouble, etc deserve this chance to gain more earned time credits and with the lack of standard times given to people for the same crimes is very hard to swallow. Two identical people with the same crime one gets 25 years no probation, parole or suspended sentence and the other gets 20 with 18 suspended - it is time to give the good ones a second chance with more earned credits and then the work needs to start on standardizing some of the times given.

Most in prison need a chance to come home so they can get healthy as most have failing health due to lack of proper meals, nutrition and medical care - give them a chance as they are human just as we are and if given this chance I bet you will return better people back into society than if you do nothing for them after they have been doing their best while in the custody of the DOC which if you have ever visited a prison you know how they are treated as a visitor we are not always treated with the respect we deserve for supporting our family members. The harp on family is the most important but they do everything they can to deter you from coming to see your loved one.

Please do not repeal the earned sentence credit bill and give them a chance.

Sheila S writes:

I would say if a person did their time for a crime that did not kill or harm a person they need to be able to have a chance to have a reduced time serve and get a job to pay back restoration for crime that have done and be with their family yes things happen and when love one pass away they were not there to say Goodbye

Calvin writes:

Daniel L, I understand your position on this not being the long term answer. Unfortunately, our GA swings like a pendulum and too often it's a matter of taking what you can, when you can.

Probation in VA is the lifetime installment plan that counters any meaningful reform.

My skin in the game stems from a person serving probation time from 1998. Victimless (aside from self and family) and nonviolent. Sentence modification was a hope some years ago, but nixed.

I'm not blinded that this is not ideal, but at the pace true reform happens, I'll take it.

With the prison population being the least sympathetic group out there, it is hard to inspire many politicians to go to bat. They have re-elections to consider, after all. And a few unintelligent buzz words about public safety...well, we know how this goes.

I really wish I had more faith in the integrity of our political leaders, the DOC, judicial system, etc. but they are far too fickle and too enamored with their authority.

I appreciate your correspondence on here and your reasoning.

April wright writes:

This is so very sad ... this goes to show that our government wants to keep the poor poor and the rich rich .. if you look at some men and women who have been incarcerated who have been released.. they opened halfway houses gave resources for recently released people .. what has this world turned to when our government cannot do what is needed for individuals to be brought back into society and be successful... they want our loved ones to be back behind them walls because they make money most jails are owned by the judges in virginia yes thats correct and the judges give harsh sentences so they continue to make money ... let's just put the truth out there no secrets need to be kept ... they can afford to keep thier families from being imprisoned not all can ... let's make it fare for all let your loved one end up behind them walls thats when we will see a change ... let's make sure none of these people run for office again they do not deserve a title ... you speak for the people but what people ...

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Bev Bristow writes:

Offenders need to be rehabiliatated, receive job training and be guaranteed a job once they are released. Elderly offenders need to be released and can be put on house arrest or ankle bracelet should they need that condition. The cost of the elderly offender population is a drain on VA taxpayers. Allowing "victims" to press charges and be granted trials with absolutely no evidence is unfair to the accused and a drain on families. Without evidence guilt CANNOT be determined beyond a shadow of a doubt!

Tisha writes:

Many of the people that want this bill rejected and amended have no clue about VA DOC. VA DOC fail inmates daily by the lack of providing bare minimum health care (blood pressure medication, protecting against covid, etc). VA doc has a lack of help, aid, or staff to help these individuals rehab. Look at the numerous of jobs that are constantly being open on their website. It is not because of the fear, but
because of the constant short staff, power struggles within staff, and the inhumane treat that some correctional facilities and officers do/ place upon the inmates who are humans. The state of Virginia charge many individuals with extreme sentencing for an criminal offense but also tact on a non violent charge for violation of probation for driving with a license. Now an individual has served the time for the violent crime and deserves to be eligible for the earn sentence credit for the non violent crime. I pray that none of you or your loves ones never find yourself in a position to be taken advantage of by politician and VA DOC.

Ashamed to live in USA writes:

Virginians should stop Voting these money hungry sad republicans who only care about control into these seats. They don’t care about human rights, they don’t care about non violent offenders and the toll it puts on families. They only care about money and who can make the most of it controlling anyone who is not white. Amerikkka is still stuck, nothing has changed in this white world. This is not the land of the free never has been.

Va.Eggleston writes:

Virginia is still a Jim crow state and will always be.The white law makers is only concerned about money and power. Theses are the people with no souls. A lot of people in prison are already innocent, they couldn't afford to pay a lawyer so they just got thrown away into the system and forgotten. They ended up with the money hungry court appointed attorney who don't care. They don't put any effort in your case like the TV lawyers who go all out for their clients (payed or not ) they stand before a judge (who is also on the fix) and say a lot of non-meaning lies like he is really representing you cause thats what the law requires so they can say you had an attorney when they throw the book at you.So give PEOPLE a chance to prove themselves.You can't predict what a person is going to do no more than the weatherman can predict the weather even they are wrong sometimes. We ARE ALL ONLY HUMAN !

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