augusta free press news

State Sen. Mark Obenshain to host parole spotlight series on Facebook Live

mark obenshainState Sen. Mark Obenshain will host a Parole Spotlight Series, which will air on Facebook next week.

The series will focus on the parole process and will highlight cases in Richmond, Suffolk and Halifax where violent felons have recently been granted parole by the Virginia Parole Board.

The four-part series will air live at 5 p.m. on the senator’s Facebook Page  beginning on Monday, May 18 and conclude on Thursday, May 21.

A detailed schedule and list of special guests joining the senator for each segment will be announced later this week.

“Over the past two months, the Virginia Parole Board has demonstrated a shocking pattern of failing to comply with requirements imposed by law,” Obenshain said. “Among those shortcomings is the failure to notify victims or Commonwealth’s Attorneys of their intended actions before releasing violent felons and sex offenders back into communities across the Commonwealth. Due process works both ways. While inmates are entitled to a fair parole hearing, victims, prosecutors and law enforcement are also entitled to a voice in the process before such important public safety decisions become final.”

Parole was abolished in Virginia for crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 1995.  According to recent estimates, there are 1,900 inmates that remain eligible for parole.

In recent weeks, there has been increased media coverage surrounding controversial cases where the Virginia Parole Board has granted parole to violent offenders, often times without proper notification, as required by law, to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office where the case was tried or to the victim and their family members.

In light of these developments, there are published reports of a pending investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of Virginia (OIG) of actions by the Parole Board. Moreover, Gov. Ralph Northam yesterday refused to impose a moratorium on the early release of those inmates convicted of violent felonies pending the outcome of the OIG investigation.

“Since the abolition of Virginia’s liberal and lenient system of parole in the 1990s, communities across Virginia have been safer,” Obenshain said. “We must not return to that old broken system. The goal of this series to is raise public awareness about the current Parole Board’s disregard of the law, the danger that they are placing in our communities and the rights of the victim and their families to be heard.”