Public Comments for 09/02/2020 Courts of Justice
Last Name: White Locality: Stephens City

To Whom It May Concern, I am writing concerning the "good time credits bill" currently with no exclusions and to apply retroactively. I am a prosecutor in Page County, Virginia and handle primarily violent felonies and fatalities, as well as both adult and child sex crimes. I find this bill very disheartening. While I understand the call for reform in the criminal justice system and agree that reform is needed in certain areas, this bill is quite frankly, as it is written, unconscionable. This is a bill that will completely eradicate the trust that victims of violent sex crimes and families of victims who have been killed have in our great judicial system. This bill is careless, in that it does not appear to take into account many factors. For example, plea agreements or sentences have been crafted and offenders sentenced to a period of time, after careful thought and consideration by the prosecutor, the court and with the victim's or victims family's input. If this bill is passed, as is, thousands of violent offenders and sex offenders will be released, without any efficient mechanism for notifying the victim's involved or allowing them to in any way prepare for a release of an offender who has violently assaulted that person or even killed a loved one. The passage of this bill will also allow for sex offenders and violent offenders to be immediately released without resources being in place for supervision of these offenders. Jurisdictions and the court system will be flooded with violent offenders, sex offenders, violent sex offenders and offender's whose victims played an integral part in the carefully crafted sentences the offender received. I could cite several examples of cases I have handled, where the victim is finally at peace because an offender is in jail after being violently assaulted or their loved one was killed. And the idea that the needs and rights of Virginia's victims to be a part of the process concerning an offender is being set to the side to create a law that carries NO exclusions, is simply wrong. I consider myself progressive in social and judicial reform, but this bill is beyond the pale. Why not act with diligence and care before enacting such sweeping legislation, and invite victim's and others to be heard before crafting the bill? The rush to effect reform will be more harmful and react in backlash. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is of a mindset in many of her opinions and speeches, that when progress or reform is needed, it must be done thoughtfully and with care. Sweeping and swift reform generally creates more problems than it fixes. I would hazard to state the same concerning this piece of legislation. Ilona L. White

Last Name: Travers Locality: Sanford

In 2013 my sister, Rachel Michelle Abshire was brutally murdered by Cory Abshire and Marcus Hofferber. These two planned her murder for over a year. They planned every detail and even had multiple practice runs to make sure they had a good escape route and cover stories. These two individuals don’t deserve to see another day outside of prison. They took away the life of a mother of two young boys and my sister. They took away my mothers only daughter and my fathers oldest daughter and impacted the lives of my entire family. Their selfishness should not be rewarded with time off their sentence because they happen to “behave” in prison. They took a life on purpose. They admit to it and it was proven. They don’t deserve to enjoy life. These cowards repeatedly stabbed Rachel from behind and left her to die alone. Their lives should be forfeit and they should have to sit in prison and think about their crime for the rest of their days. I pray they find grace in the eyes of God as I believe God is willing to forgive as I have forgiven them. This does not change that they should pay for their crimes in this life. No doubt there are people that deserve second chances but these two knew exactly what they were planning. There’s no room for wiggle in this matter. The nature of this crime should not even be considered for reducing debt aces for ANY reason. Thank you for your time and attention.

Last Name: Pardue Locality: LONGMONT

This bill needs to have limits for types of crimes committed. As the bill is written the person I know who was sentenced to 40 years in prison with 15 suspended and only serving 25 years would qualify for early release, despite having contracted a friend in a murder for hire and putting hits out on potential witnesses in his case. He is a danger to society and his sentence is already too little. This bill would let him qualify for an even earlier release, which is not acceptable. This bill needs to limit the types of offenders to non-violent offenders in order to protect society. I recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in Sociology and a Minor in Communication. While there I spent time researching criminal justice reform and restorative justice, which I am a huge advocate for restorative justice in the right circumstances. The majority of people incarcerated would be good candidates for restorative justice, however, it is undisputed that there are some people that no matter what will reoffend. By cutting the sentences of violent offenders it is putting a person who is more likely to reoffend back on the street. This will lead to more victims of violence. The sentences handed down were determined to fit the crime committed and should not be lessened for those convicted of violent crimes because they demonstrated good behavior under supervision. The two people incarcerated in the murder for hire case I was witness in were both in the Navy. They know how to behave when supervised but that did not prevent them from murdering in cold blood.

Last Name: Darby Organization: Just Future Project Locality: Woodford

Any incarcerated person no matter the offense must earn these enhanced credits. This program is not a "get out of jail free" card. Who should have an opportunity to better themselves than who society considers "the worst of the worst"? Excluding those convicted of sex offenses against children will create a more unstable environment in prison and will continue to support systemic racism as all offenses are over represented by black citizens. The prison term reflects the seriousness of the crime so all people should have the same chance for incentives and opportunities to improve themselves. Most victims prefer incentives and programs as well so that there will be no more victims!

Last Name: Brown Locality: Fairfax

Hello I would like you to specifically consider extending the earned credits and possible of expungement to our youth 25 and under. By giving them a better outcome for the future of being productive citizen's. Criminal records limit the potential in our youth that have made mistakes while they do not have fully developed brains to make better decisions. Evidenced base programs and best practice shows the science behind the human brain, lets catch up with the world and set a prescience of investing in our youth. Holding yourself accountable and showing responsibility for the systems we have created will benefit all Community members in Virginia. We have many young adults and youth locked up during this PANDEMIC please give them HOPE and HEALING during this very difficult time for all families. Many have suffered, being locked away in cells, 23 hours per day. We are a progressive country, and need to be leaders in how we treat people in our Criminal Justice system. Thank you Grandma Brown

Last Name: McKenna Organization: Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking Locality: Chesapeake

I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking (VCAHT) and the hundreds of survivors it serves. VCAHT is an alliance of service providers, attorneys, survivor-advocates, and community members on a mission to remove barriers preventing survivors from achieving a full and healthy life through public awareness campaigns, policy reform and enacting survivor-centered human trafficking legislation. I am also an attorney of 30+ years who spent 6 1/2 years in the Virginia Beach Public Defender's Office representing hundreds of individuals charged various misdemeanor and felony infractions of the law. Unfortunately, while I did not know or understand it at the time, there were likely many victims of trafficking among those I was serving but neither they or I knew enough to understand their victimization to identify them. Often times those I was representing would express that they understood that "having done the crime that they needed to do the time". However, under Virginia's present state of how it treats those convicted of criminal offenses that time never ends and the consequences continually follow them and their families greatly affecting the ability to actually move forward in a productive manner in regard to society. Regarding human trafficking survivors who were wrongfully convicted they are doubly victimized because their victimization was not recognized when they were charged with and convicted of criminal offenses that were a direct result of their victimization. The present bill is welcomed by VCAHT and these survivors, as the process of petitioning for expungement should that process be enacted in Virginia to allow an individual to have a conviction expunged, is extremely daunting to those who have been victimized by human trafficking due to the extreme trauma experienced as a result of their victimization. The process of petitioning for expungement adds to that retraumatization as they have to relive their trafficking experience in the petition process. Accordingly, VCAHT is greatly in support of this bill to cover nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors in the automatic expungement process that would eliminate survivors from having to relive their trafficking experience to obtain this relief and would ask the Committee to vote favorably in reporting it out of Committee. Thank you for time and consideration of this request.

Last Name: Eisenhour Locality: Alexandria

The longer we wait to pass legislation on Earned Sentence Credits, the more people die. It's that simple. We know that jails, prisons, and detention centers are hotbeds for the virus, where social distancing is impossible, medical care is already sorely lacking, and staff members are constantly moving between the facility and their community, increasing the risk of transmission for all Virginians. This legislation would release people already near the end of their sentence. We know that our jails and prisons far from rehabilitate incarcerated people: extra months in jail, especially when the paltry educational programs and services that did exist are severely limited in their ability to operate, do not help either those incarcerated or society at large. Especially under the current public health emergency, holding more people in prisons with high infection rates puts the entire state at risk. Please do the right thing. You would be saving lives both behind and outside the walls.

Last Name: Lee Locality: Amherst

I am apposed to HB5148 because it does ot take in to consideration the severity of the person's crime or consideration for the victims and their families or the wishes of the courts who handed down the sentence for the severity of the crime.

Last Name: Langbein Locality: Katy tx

The Crime Commission has endorsed an expanded good time credits bill with no exclusions on what crimes it applies to. It would cut long sentences by almost half. (It does not apply to life sentences.) This is done retroactively, meaning that where victims agreed to a 20 year sentence, the defendant would be getting out much, much earlier than was promised. Because there are currently no exclusions, it would apply to all crimes, including sex crimes, violent crimes like murder, human trafficking of children. These releases would happen with no victim input as allowed with parole. There are apparently discussions going on about amending the bill to exclude some crimes, as happened the State Senate, but at this time, none have been included. Of note, the patron made it clear that while he might accept some exclusions, he does not want to see expansive exclusions. (Last year's exclusions would have still allowed early release for child pornographers and child prostitution charges, for example.)

Last Name: Reed Organization: Washington County Victim Witness Assistance Program Locality: Abingdon

I believed that expanding good time credits with no exclusions on what crime it applies to is total unfair and unjust to the victims of these crimes and to the communities where these crimes occurred. If trials were held and juries found these defendants guilty and deliberated for a sentence; handed down that sentence; they expected that defendant to serve that sentence. Victims who struggled to report, cooperate with prosecution, and testify with the expectation that the sentence given would be carried out by the Virginia Justice system will be victimized all over again. This is not fair to them, their families, nor the community. Children that were victimize put their trust in this system. They worked with prosecutors to negotiate pleas that would help protect them and give them a chance to recover, rehabilitate, and regain their self worth. They did this with the hope to move forward in life. They will now be thrown back to living in fear, anxiety, and with a mistrust of the system that they were assured would protect and help them. How dare you forget the victims and the communities by submitting something of this nature that only benefits the offender. I am a tax payer, former law enforcement, and now a victims advocate who sees this as a miscarriage of justice to us all. Those who worked diligently to handle the case in order to present it to the prosecutor. The Prosecutor who worked to present this to the court and to a jury of persons from his community. The advocate who worked to help the victim of the event maintain, move forward and be able to live a life. The victim who suffered the most from the defendants actions and yet found a way to move forward with life and deal with the injuries both mental and physical that this defendant left imprinted on them. I sent out HB 5148 to former victims of some of the most devastating criminal events I have ever dealt with in my 30 plus years working in the criminal justice system. I have had them call me angry, crying, fearful, and scared. They are reliving the trauma all over again. How you see this as a good idea is beyond me. It makes me angry, it makes me sad. Sad for my victims, my community, and my state. I am troubled that those elected to make good choices for the Commonwealth are making this a matter that needs to be heard. I ask you to please, think of the crime victims before approving this matter. This is unjust, unfair, and unneeded in this day and age.

Last Name: Penn Locality: Henry

Would like to speak on the expungement legislation. I sent an email yesterday but I have yet to receive a reply or a link

Last Name: Knotts Organization: Americans for Prosperity Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA

Americans for Prosperity Virginia supports these reforms. Madam Chair: As a matter of good policy, we need to think of outcomes. Virginia has made progress on recidivism. With that in mind, let’s consider that the focus of these proposals are individuals who are getting out of prison. Let’s emphasize this. These individuals are getting out of prison. And no matter the amount of pain they have caused – our legal system has determined they will get out. So WHEN they get out – what will the result be? When I was in high school, I had a coach who constantly reiterated “whatever you practice, you will perform.” And he reminded us often that we don’t just get in a game and suddenly become what we hoped we would be. We had to develop discipline, skills, and self-control before the game or we wouldn’t have it during the game. That’s how we should look at these people who will get out of prison. We need to consider when that person gets out, how has the commonwealth minimized the risk of future victims WHEN they get out. We know these individuals will return to society, and WHEN they return, whatever they practice in prison is what they’ll perform outside of prison. To minimize the risk of past victims and the possibility of future victims – conditioning criminals before they leave prison is necessary to better outcomes of prison. This is why Earned Sentence Credits needs to be extended to all offenders that will one day be out of prison. This is also why expungement is important. If we want redeemed offenders to avoid profitable opportunities outside of the law - there must be eligible for profitable opportunities inside the law. But without expungement - debts to society served honorably mar a person's application, resume, and interview. No matter how well they may do earning the trust of the employer - a simple search will, effectively, eliminate them from consideration. If our outcome for our justice system is to ensure offenders do not want to seek out illegal opportunities to profit - we must reform expungement policy so they can pursue legitimate opportunities to profit. Victims matter - but presently, our policy merely hopes many of Virginian's offenders won't re-offend when they get out of prison. Passing these reforms will do better than hope. They prepare offenders for leaving prison, and they allow them more legal and ethical opportunities once they're out of prison.

Last Name: Sites Locality: Lehigh Acres

Something that we must not overlook is that Earned Sentence Credit is just that ... earned. While some incarcerated individuals do leave behind traumatized victims, to exclude anyone from the opportunity to earn good time is to say that people are not capable of rehabilitation or change. To exclude any individual from earned sentence credit is essentially an admittance to failure on the part of DOC in its efforts to rehabilitate. We KNOW that people can and do change. Those who continue down the path of crime and victimization are the exception, not the norm.

Last Name: Walker Organization: Bridging the Gap in Virginia Locality: Richmond

Expungements will allow individuals to move forward to gainful employment, decent housing, reduction in crime, reduction in substance abuse, reduction in social services dependency, and upward economic mobility for the marginalized communities of color. Family Reunification would also become an outcome, as fathers would be able to take care of their families. Children would do better in school as they would have that parent to emulate with disciplined work ethic. VA is 1 of 9 states that do not have comprehensive expungement legislation. I also advocate that a 200.00 fee be assessed to cover administration costs; which would also bring BILLIONS to the Commonwealth of Virginia, knowing that there are over 400,000 Convicted Felons in Virginia. This Bill will help "Change the Narrative" in VA 's Criminal Justice "OVERHALL"!!

Last Name: Ellis Organization: Legal Aid Justice Center Locality: Charlottesville, VA

My name is Shannon Ellis, and I am an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center. We support implementing earned sentence credits in Virginia, and I would like to offer a few thoughts for your consideration regarding about the retroactivity aspect of this bill. Most of my work revolves around incarcerated people, and over the past few years, I have met and worked with so many people who truly deserve the relief offered by this bill. One group that particularly comes to mind are the incarcerated parents I have met, many of whom have kept perfectly clean disciplinary records and taken advantage of all programs and training available to them, but who are no closer to returning home to their families despite their demonstrated rehabilitation and good behavior. In many ways, these individuals could be considered especially deserving of sentence credits, because they have maintained good behavior and accomplished educational and work benchmarks purely from their own discipline and desire for rehabilitation, without the incentive of time off. Cutting these individuals off from the possibility of benefiting from sentence credits would be a great injustice. I hope you will pass this bill and adopt this improved earned sentence credit framework.

Last Name: Gardner Organization: Victim Advocate Locality: Chesapeake

Victim safety needs to be at the forefront when considering this bill. On April 9 of this year in Alexandria, man who was incarcerated without bond for rape, strangulation, and abduction was released on an offensively low $25,000 bond due to the coronavirus, with the condition he only leave his home to meet with his attorney and/or pretrial services. Based on these charges, there is presumption is against bond due to the danger the defendant presents. On July 29, this man went to the home of his victim and shot and killed her outside her apartment. After a police chase that caused this man to crash, police approached his vehicle to find he’d shot himself. During this man’s incarceration, there were zero cases of coronavirus in the jail. This happened while a man was on bond, still presumed innocent until proven guilty and you're talking about slicing sentences of people who've already been convicted. People who’ve been victimized, traumatized, and violated deserve justice and to be able to start the healing process while knowing the person who committed a heinous crime against them is being held accountable and punished for the crime they've committed. When someone is given a sentence of 10, 20, 50 years, they are already only serving about 85% of their sentence. Do I think good behavior while incarcerated could warrant an early release for some non-violent offenses, yes. But in violent crimes such as the example given, and in crimes against children, women, elderly, crimes against PEOPLE, you do the crime, you do the time. It's an axiom for a reason. And when felonies are pled to misdemeanors, they are serving HALF of their sentenced time. Legislators need to be cognizant of the impact this bill could have on victim safety and safety to the public, and to not do so would be incredibly reckless. Do you really want to send the message to Virginians that their safety isn't valued? Do you want the Commonwealth of Virginia to be a place where offenders are emboldened and not accountable?

Last Name: Lee Locality: Chesapeake Virginia

My grandson was repeatedly violated by a sex offender. I do not want any child or the child’s family to experience what my family had to endure. The sexy offender had multiple opportunities of rehabilitation but to no avail. I DO NOT support this bill.

Last Name: Demere Organization: Pulaski County Victim Assistance Program Locality: Montgomery

I have been informed that this bill could allow the early release of prisoners, below the amount of time victims expect their perpetrators to serve. Please do not do this retroactively!

Last Name: Fisher Organization: Northumberland Victim Witness Program Locality: Heathsville

This is outrageous. There needs to be exclusions as to which crimes this good time release bill would apply to. You cannot responsibly give a blanket endorsement to a bill that would release violent sex offenders, child molestors, rapists, and murderers into our community earlier than their previous sentence would have allowed, after ensuring the victims and homicide victims's families that the offenders would be incarcerated for a set amount of time. This is victimizing the innocent a second time around, by the judicial system, by our government. You are charged with protecting our communities, ensuring our safety. There is little incentive for those affected by crimes such as those mentioned above to not take matters into their own hands to achieve justice for themselves, or their loved ones who are victimized ... because after all, they will know they won't get that many years in jail for a punishment under this good time release bill proposal. Please exclude the violent crimes listed above from this proposal.

Last Name: Skeens Organization: Dickenson Co. VWAP Locality: Clintwood

I am a victim advocate and have been for many years and watched victims lives torn apart by sexual assault, domestic violence, survivors of homicide, pornography, molestation, trafficking and so many other crimes. Once you're a victim, your life is never the same. If this bill passes, victims will be devastated! The abusers and perpetrators need to serve their FULL sentence given! and that sentence rarely fits the crime as it is now. I'm begging you to STOP THIS BILL! for the child victim who's life has been torn apart, for the victims that are mothers, siblings, and grandchildren. If a family member of your's was a victim, how would you feel about passing this bill?! PLEASE STOP THIS BILL! Thank you

Last Name: Brewer Organization: Wise County Commonwealth Locality: Wise

I work with victims of all crimes and have been a victim myself. I do not feel anyone is listening to the victims regarding this Bill. Until you have become a victim yourself you do not know how it feels to go to court and have to face the person who may have killed your loved one, or caused damage to them with an ax, or gun, or knife. I have been told there are not specific crimes listed in this Bill. If that is true that needs to be changed. You need to let the victims know you are standing behind them and not standing up only for the inmate/prisoner/defendant. I have spoken to many of our victims who are very upset about this Bill. I have had one defendant who was already released early, who murdered a woman with a gun, and who was not supposed to get out because he received life without parole. So, please tell me how that happened? How many more will get through the cracks? I pray you take heed to the victims pleas and deny this Bill. Thank you

Last Name: Lee Organization: Self Locality: Chesapeake Virginia

I most strongly oppose this proposed action. I have a grandson who was repeatedly sexually violated by an adult male who is a repeat offender. The adult offender was provided multiple rehabilitations opportunities but to no avail. In hopes to prevent further opportunities of this behavior to harm more children, I implore you to NOT pass this egregious bill.

Last Name: Bell Locality: Chesapeake

DO NOT PASS THE Earned Sentence bill! Sex crimes are being swept under the rug far too often. But families like mine have done the work to protect your families. We spent years in court fighting for the safety of our son. The offender abused more than just our child, but the other families weren’t strong enough to do what we did. So there is no record of those sex crimes done by the same offender to other children. CHILDREN! How are you willing to let someone out who’s hurt children!! Offenders who have hurt children are good at manipulating others to do it and believing whatever they want. Don’t you think that if they can manipulate families and children that they can manipulate the courts as well. They can manipulate people they have come in contact in jail! They can and do!! They do not need to be released into the public. You are putting so many children and families at risk! Like I have said. I have done my part to protect me and my family and you are going to undo all of that. All of our false sense of security. All of our false sense of healing. You are just going to say that our pain has been for nothing. Think of us. Think of those who are suffering. We will never be the same! These offenders do not deserve a chance back in society. They had their chance. They made their choice to be where they are. Please don’t allow this to happen to our community. No one is safe from sex offenders.

Last Name: Mesghinna Locality: Arlington

Please pass HB 5148 to expand earned sentence credits for ALL behind bars during the upcoming special session as it was originally submitted by Delegate Scott during the 2020 legislative session. Distinguishing between different classes of crime within legislation that is set to encourage rehabilitation and incentivize better behavior is unjust, unnecessary, and counter productive. Sentence length already reflects initial crime so POTENTIAL time earned off of sentences will reflect that as well. In addition, it is those who have done the most wrong who we should most give incentive to be better people. Our son, Estifanos Mesghinna #1189915, was falsely accused of a violent crime, but has worked hard to prove his innocence and be a good person behind bars. He deserves a chance to come home to us, as do all. We am scared for him during this pandemic since he already tested positive for Covid-19 in June 2020. Social distancing is impossible behind bars currently and the conditions in our prisons right now are scary. Expanding earned sentence credits for all would help alleviate some of these problems for our prison systems while allowing our son to come home where he can help us during this crazy time. Please consider the well-being of all Virginia’s citizens as pass this legislation as it was originally submitted by Delegate Scott during the regular 2020 legislative session. Thank you. Meraf Ghebretatios (Mother) 3403 Spring Lane #201 Falls Church, Virginia 22041 Haile Mesghinna (Father) Arlington, Virginia

Last Name: Ghebretatios Locality: Falls Church

Please pass HB 5148 to expand earned sentence credits for ALL behind bars during the upcoming special session as it was originally submitted by Delegate Scott during the 2020 legislative session. Distinguishing between different classes of crime within legislation that is set to encourage rehabilitation and incentivize better behavior is unjust, unnecessary, and counter productive. Sentence length already reflects initial crime so POTENTIAL time earned off of sentences will reflect that as well. In addition, it is those who have done the most wrong who we should most give incentive to be better people. Our son, Estifanos Mesghinna #1189915, was falsely accused of a violent crime, but has worked hard to prove his innocence and be a good person behind bars. He deserves a chance to come home to us, as do all. We am scared for him during this pandemic since he already tested positive for Covid-19 in June 2020. Social distancing is impossible behind bars currently and the conditions in our prisons right now are scary. Expanding earned sentence credits for all would help alleviate some of these problems for our prison systems while allowing our son to come home where he can help us during this crazy time. Please consider the well-being of all Virginia’s citizens as pass this legislation as it was originally submitted by Delegate Scott during the regular 2020 legislative session. Thank you. Meraf Ghebretatios (Mother) 3403 Spring Lane #201 Falls Church, Virginia 22041 Haile Mesghinna (Father) Arlington, Virginia

Last Name: Dillard Locality: Henry

As a constituent of Henry County, I stand in full support of HB 5148 and it being an EARNED sentence credit for ALL. During these difficult times, we all have been impacted. Yet, the individuals behind bars are navigating this pandemic under extensive lockdown and continue to display exemplary behavior. HB 5148 stands to incentivize their current actions, create a safer environment for all, and reduce overcrowding in prisons. It is only right that all individuals are given the opportunity to earn this extended credit. But it will ultimately be their individual efforts that determine their standing within this proposed system itself. HB 5148 brings hope and a true second chance to those that are making strides to correct their behaviors and return to society as reformed citizens. This is the very change that Virginia desperately needs in it’s criminal justice system.

Last Name: Bell Organization: Self & Child Locality: Chesapeake

I watch a documentary about sex offenders. The offender, himself said there is not a cure for his crime. He stated that it is best to keep him and other offenders away from children. My son was sexually assaulted by someone who manipulated us as a family to get to my son. And even though we took the proper steps to protect our son; the offender was still hunting out other young boys. A protective order didn't stop him from stalking. Minimal jail time didn't stop him from assaulting. The only thing that made this nightmare stop was for the offender - who does not deserve a name but a number - #1874839; is for him to be locked away for the entirety of his sentence. I am begging the courts NOT to pass this bill! The years we spent in court and the time that has passed since sentencing still has not been enough to heal. My son continues to struggle with memories that were forced upon him. My family will never be the same. Offender# 1874839 does not deserve freedom. He was given a second, third, and fourth chance. He chose to toss them aside when he continued to offend. He is right where he chose to be. When one commits heinous crimes against children they don't deserve the ability to rehabilitate. Because children don't have the ability or knowledge to defend themselves. We desire to live a safe and moral world. By passing this bill you, are contributing to degradation of a moral society. PLEASE DO NOT PASS THE EARN SENTENCE BILL.

Last Name: Hooven Locality: Galax


Last Name: Grey Locality: New Kent

As a mother of a murder victim I was shocked (not even a word to describe my anger) when I saw that legislation is considering to approve reduction of sentences. I will only say this, I have been given a LIFE sentence without any possibility of reduction! How can you possibly in good conscience reduce a sentence of a convicted felon (murderer). What has our judicial system come to if this is possible - what message do you want to send to potential criminals? As this system is not perfect, I at least felt as though there was some justice for me and my son who was senselessly murdered at gunpoint - I can’t even fathom that this murderer should have ANY rights! In my eyes, If approved, you are just as guilty for crimes committed. SAY NO!

Last Name: Hafen Locality: Bristol

33 months ago my son was violently murdered in his own home. Our family still suffers daily because of the acts of the criminals. They do not deserve to have their sentences reduced by even one minute. My son will lay in a grave forever, he can’t have his “sentence” given by them, reduced and they should have to serve every minute given to them. I do not understand WHY anyone wants to release criminals who have been convicted of a serious crime and legally sentenced by a judge, to be released early to commit crimes on our citizens. They committed their crime, they should have to serve their time! My son and our family are victims of a heinous crime , as are many other people. Please don’t victimize us even more with HB5148. Please consider how this will affect victims and their families. Passing this will not give my son his life back, it won’t take away all the heartache and tears for us for the rest of our lives. Why does everyone want to make life better for criminals? Where is the compassion and doing what iss? If you want to improve life for criminals, wwhatare you going to do for us victims?c

Last Name: Carter Organization: The Humanization Project Locality: Moneta, VA

Please base legislation on data and evidence, not on anecdotes and fear-mongering. Be brave and bold and pass real reform that can help the most people and really help to incentivize our people behind bars to become better citizens while righting some of the wrongs of racial inequity. I am including some information here specifically on recidivism and violent and sexual crimes. Thank you. 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9 Year Follow-Up Period (2005-2014). Alper and Durose, 2018, US Department of Justice •Explains how the measurement of recidivism rates vary • Those originally convicted of a violent crime are least likely to be re- arrested (see “any arrest after release”, Table 6) Recidivism of Adult Felons Sentencing Guidelines Commission, 2007, State of Washington • Sex crimes, manslaughter, and murder have the lowest recidivism rates for any new offense Age and Sexual Recidivism: A Comparison of Rapists and Child Molesters • “…the rate of sexual offending decreased with age.” • Observed sexual recidivism rates are only 10% to 15% after five years Risk Assessment of Online Child Sexual Exploitation Offenders • Studies based in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States have found that 0 to 9 percent of online offenders, followed for one to nine years after their index offense, demonstrate repeat online offenses. (recall our “really low” recidivism rate in Virginia is ~24%, so 0-9% is really really low!) Explaining Recidivism Rates in Virginia, Why the Conversation Around Them is Limited. Jeff Schwaner, 2019, The News Leader • The way recidivism is measured varies from state to state • VA’s recidivism rate only includes those convicted with a sentence of over a year within 3 years of their release • There are many other reasons that people go back to prison after they are released, so VA’s low percentage is misleading The Misleading Math of “Recidivism” Dana Goldstein, 2014, The Marshall Project • “…recidivism, though constantly discussed, can be widely interpreted– and misinterpreted…” • What is counted as recidivism matters and that is not always consistent. • The period of time measured is also important and varies. • “The most violent prisoners are actually the least likely to end up back in jail.”

Last Name: Carter Organization: The Humanization Project Locality: Moneta, VA

Hoping to speak on the 2nd, but I wanted to send some references for you all to have as well. Thank you for taking the time to consider this information. If you can only read one thing, please read this article. It has a lot of links and a lot of references and clearly states why reforms like the earned sentence credit expansion should apply to ALL: Reforms without Results: Why states should stop excluding violent offenses from criminal justice reforms Prison Policy Initiative This article is also particularly relevant to the discussion as well. If anyone has time, I also highly recommend Danielle Sered’s book Until We Reckon. Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration Danielle Sered, 2017, New York Vera Center for Justice • Factors contributing to violence are shame, isolation, lack of opportunity, inability to meet economic needs and exposure to violence–the key factors of prison itself • Prison does not fix violence, in fact, it perpetuates it Governor’s Commission on Parole Report: Final Report and Recommendations Commonwealth of Virginia • See Recommendation 11 on page 25 How Many Americans are Unnecessarily Incarcerated? Brennan Center for Justice, 2016 • No compelling reason to keep 39% of people behind bars there, in terms of risk to public safety • Elderly are especially unlikely to reoffend • "…recidivism measured by re-arrest, reconviction, and re-incarceration declined as age increased."

Last Name: Wells Organization: None, just the hands of the victims I’ve held and tried to comfort Locality: Bedford

True in sentencing is what we as citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia need. When judicial sentences are handed down 3 month should be 3 months, not 1 /12 and so forth. The language in this bill will allow no difference for non violent or violent offenders. There is a difference between petit larceny and murder, rape, sexual assault. Do you as members of this committee feel there is a difference? We the citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia do. This would allow for as much as a half time credit for most offenders without input from the victim. Do you as elected Delegates representing the good people of your respective districts who may or are a victim of a violent crime feel they have a right to be heard and provide input? Vote wisely please and I pray none of you or your families ever have to face a violent invasion on your lives. Someone who has held the hands and tried to provide comfort to those very victims your vote will impact. David Wells

Last Name: Fore Locality: Henrico

I am a survivor of domestic violence and oppose any changes to laws that would allow for convicted criminals of domestic violence to get lesser sentences or more credit for good behavior / time served. The state of VA already has faults in the system with how offenders of domestic violence are prosecuted and the issues of getting a guilty verdict and penalties given. The system failed me and my children multiple times and we are lucky to be alive. There is way more help given to the assaulting party then the victim. Myself and both my children have scars ( mental and physical ) from years of abuse and are against easing anymore guidelines to once again help the abuser more then the victim.

Last Name: Turner Locality: Harrisonburg

The current system of earned sentence credits used by the DOC applies to everyone and its assessment model is the same as that proposed by Delegate Scott’s Earned Sentence Credits Bill. Though current and proposed models are the same, the proposed bill gives them a greater incentive to improve themselves to earn an earlier release. They earn the credits through their improved actions and interactions and through academic and vocational advancement. The current Earned Sentence Credits system applies to everyone, but lacks incentive. Please vote for Del Scott's Earned Sentence Credits Bill and give EVERYONE the same higher incentive to EARN earlier release and provide hope to improve their lives.

End of Comments