The consequences for a conviction for a violent crime are often serious and include incarceration. In an effort to get tough on crime, in 1994, discretionary parole was abolished in the state of Virginia. As a result of that abolishment, those convicted of a felony in the state must serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence before they are eligible for release.
While crime rates have decreased in the state of Virginia since parole was abolished, it has not dropped to the same extent as other states that have abolished parole. A spokesperson for the ACLU said those statistics indicate that prisoners are not rehabilitated faster when they spend longer periods of time in prison. In addition, she said the rate of recidivism is not decreased.
Virginia’s governor appears to agree. In a recent radio appearance he indicated that he is looking into re-establishing parole. In that interview he said that each year, incarcerated individuals cost the state $27,462. He put the number of incarcerated individuals in the state at 30,369.
Others in favor of the use of parole believe that it plays an important role in rehabilitating inmates. A professor of criminology said that as compares to a computer, parole boards can better monitor the progress and mental health of an inmate.
To determine whether re-establishing parole makes sense, the governor said he will create a commission. The commission will look at:
- Crime rates
- Recidivism rates
- Fiscal costs
- Societal costs
Not everyone believes that parole should be re-established and if changes regarding parole in the state of Virginia do occur, it will likely take some time. Regardless of whether it is reinstated, anyone facing a criminal charge should work with a lawyer to mount an aggressive defense to the allegations.