Parole board controversy to linger, despite outside investigation

Parole board controversy to linger, despite outside investigation
The door to a prison cell. (Source: KFVS)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - State lawmakers have ordered up a review of the Virginia Parole Board, but the controversy surrounding the board’s conduct and the adequacy of the investigation continues.

On Wednesday, both the House of Delegates and Senate approved $250,000 to pay for an outside investigation. But Republicans say the review is so narrowly focused it amounts to a cover-up. And the controversy, they say, is not going away.

“I don’t know what to call this so-called investigation anything other than a whitewash,” Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah Co.) said during Wednesday’s debate.

Republicans in the House were unimpressed with the review the Governor proposed, but Democrats defended the effort.

“Many members of the General Assembly including members of the minority have been calling for an investigation,” said Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax) “And here is the opportunity.”

In the State Senate, Steve Newman proposed a bipartisan panel, that would consider a range of concerns, not just the case of Vincent Martin, who was serving a life sentence for the 1979 murder of a Richmond police officer when he was released last year.

“It would give us a true look at the laws that could have been violated, and the policies and procedures that were ignored,” Newman said. “And that is something that I think we should want to know.”

“I can’t think of a better way to get politics into this situation other than putting a bunch of politicians in charge of the investigation,” countered Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). “And that’s effectively what’s being proposed here.”

Senator Newman’s proposal was defeated, and the governor’s amendment was approved.

The results of the investigation are expected this summer.

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