Mark Obenshain pushing Parole Board transparency, accountability reform

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State Sen. Mark Obenshain introduced legislation for the 2020 Special Session of the General Assembly Monday to increase the transparency and accountability of the Virginia Parole Board.

“Over the last few months, I have been appalled by and have highlighted the egregious practices by the Virginia Parole Board. The current and former leadership of the Board have violated Parole Board policy, and the law in unjustifiable ways. Over 90 violent felons were released within 30 days. Sadly, many of these inmates were released without the proper input from and notification to victims and their families, and Commonwealth’s Attorneys as required by law,” Obenshain said.

The bill does the following:

  • Mandate the Parole Board publish its monthly report on the last day of every month
  • The Board’s monthly public report must now also include:  the offenses which the prisoner committed, the jurisdiction in which the prisoner was convicted, the length of time served, and the reasons the Board decided to grant parole.
  • Mandates the Chairman of the Virginia Parole Board to certify under oath that the Board has complied with the provisions of the Code to notify certain persons prior to the release or discharge of any prisoner.
  • Requires the Board to send to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Victim/Witness Director in the jurisdiction where the prisoner’s conviction occurred, notice to present evidence to the Board of the impact that the release of a prisoner will have on the victim
  • Eliminates language that allows the Director of Department of Corrections to recommend prisoners for early parole consideration.

“This bill will add transparency and accountability to ensure that the Board does not continue to ignore the law and its duties which they took an oath to uphold. It is past time the Board follows the law and its own policies and provides to victims and their families the respect they deserve,” Obenshain said.

The 2020 Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly begins on Tuesday.  Obenshain’s bill has been filed with the Clerk of the Senate and will be assigned a bill number in the coming days.

A full listing of legislation filed for the Special Session can be found here.

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