Virginia Parole Board working to increase transparency

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 3:16 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia’s Parole Board is working to make itself more transparent after a total overhaul by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) during his first days in office.

The commonwealth got rid of parole in 1995 with a few exceptions. This included people who reached a certain age and served a certain number of years, and those who were incarcerated before 1995.

Now, Parole Board Chair Chadwick Dotson says he wants to make the system even easier to understand.

“In 2021, there was an investigation into reports, and ultimately an inspector general report, that found that there had been parole made without proper notice to victims,” 58th District Delegate Rob Bell said.

Gov. Youngkin fired the Preview Parole Board and installed a new one chaired by Dotson.

“Public trust in the Virginia Parole Board was at an all-time low when the Youngkin administration arrived almost exactly a year ago. And it’s my hope that we’re on the path to restoring that public trust,” Dotson said.

The number of people who are eligible for geriatric parole has steadily increased.

An issue the report outlines is making sure victims know if the person who committed a crime against them is getting out.

“It’s the board’s responsibility to make sure that each of those decisions are made fairly with full justification and with proper consideration for public safety,” Dotson said.

“The parts that are the most important would be notice to victims and to make sure that victims both are available if they wish to participate in the process and get a heads up before it happens,” Del. Bell said.

The delegate says there are a few big parts of the proposal on how to increase transparency.

“Having actual votes, keeping recorded votes, and making sure that people understand who on the board did it, how they did it, that there was a meeting where there was a chance to discuss it. Those are the those are the big parts of the proposal,” Del. Bell said.

Other ideas include adding more employees and providing as much information as possible to public information requests.

“This problem didn’t happen overnight, and so it’s going to take real work from from everyone on both sides of the aisle to try to get this right,” Dotson said.

Dotson says another idea is to open up hearings so that media outlets can request access.

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