By Gail Starling Marshall
Though Gov. McAuliffe will not appoint new members to the Parole Board until after the General Assembly has adjourned, it is not too early to write letters to him supporting appointees who are more sensitive to the needs of parolees who have done their time and deserve the right to be reintegrated back into society.
For prisoners who are eligible for parole (those convicted prior to 1995) the Board is responsible for reviewing their applications for parole and, if they determine that they are no longer at risk to society, releasing them with conditions and denying parole if they find they in face are a continuing risk to society.
I think we want to urge the governor to appoint some people who have experience and/or expertise in rehabilitation so that they can help the Board make these important decisions. Current four of the five appointees come from the prosecution side of criminal justice and no one currently has any experience in rehabilitation or re-entry.
If you would like to nominate someone, include his or her name and contact inforamtion and some of the reasons why they would make a good member. By statute one of the Board members must be a victim, so if your nominee has been a victim of crime, include that information as well.
Letters concerning appointments should be addressed to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, 111 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219 with a copy to Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney at the same address. The secretary of the Commonwealth is by statute charged with assisting the governor in appointments to bards and commissions.
You may make a nomination or simply write and ask that parole board members be replaced by individuals with more experience in working on rehabilitation and not just prosecuting crimes or incarceration.
If you have questions, you may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.