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Obenshain Parole Board bill passes Senate: Reforms aimed at accountability, transparency

virginia state capitol
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Legislation that would put into place several substantial reforms to the operations of the Virginia Parole Board passed the State Senate unanimously on Wednesday.

SB 5050, introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, increases transparency and accountability to the board.

The bill:

Mandates that the Parole Board must publish its monthly decision 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, and the length of time served.

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.

Clarifies the setting of the release date of an inmate to ensure that proper notification (via electronic communication and certified mail) has been given by the Board to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

Allows victim input to be received by the Board electronically

The bill now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.

“Over the last few months, Virginians have been appalled by the egregious actions of the Virginia Parole Board and their disregard for the requirements of the law and its own policies and procedures,” Obenshain said. “Victims and their families deserve better. The Board has released violent felons without regard to requirements that victims and local prosecutors be notified in advance. Their actions have highlighted the lack of transparency under which the Board operates, and this bill seeks to address those transparency concerns.”

The full text of SB 5050 may be found here.

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