Virginia

The Virginia Attorney General has accused the former probation officer of misconduct

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RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares (R) released a report on Wednesday accusing the former chair of the state parole board of failing to follow procedures leading to the 2020 release of about 134 felons from custody to allow.

Miyares says some of the chairmen’s violations could result in criminal prosecution, but notes the statute of limitations has expired.

The 69-page report follows a request from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who, like Miyares, has backed the promise to clean the house on board amid allegations about his behavior during the coronavirus pandemic.

A state inspector general had reproached the parole board under the then governor. Ralph Northam (D) for releasing detainees without following procedures to notify local prosecutors or victims’ families. However, an outside law firm hired by the Northam government found that the investigator who prepared the inspector general’s report was biased and lacked thorough practices.

Outside law firm accuses Virginia Inspector General of probable bias in report related to state parole board actions

Miyares’ latest report offers more details and alleges that 130 of the released inmates were convicted of violent crimes. He said the parole board failed to properly notify victims or their families 83 times in March and April this year.

According to the report, the board failed to properly notify local Commonwealth solicitors 66 times during that period.

It alleges former chief executive Adrianne Bennett, now a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic District Court, of falsifying parole records in the cases of three convicted murderers and violating eight court orders declaring certain inmates “ineligible for parole on their own.” discretion”. ”

“These violations of the law cannot be prosecuted because … the applicable statute of limitations has expired,” the Miyares report said.

A former Northam spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Diane Toscano, an attorney for Bennett, issued a statement on her behalf: “The attorney general’s office selected a time period for the review that happened to occur during a one-off pandemic. In all probation cases, Judge Bennett was only one vote on the panel. This report was grossly aimed at them. Judge Bennett is a dedicated public official who has served for decades with distinction on the bench, on the parole board, and as a respected attorney in the Virginia Beach legal community. No attempt to defame them will change that.”

The report alleges that one of the released inmates committed 15 new violent crimes and that at least 10 people in total have fallen victim to crimes since the 134 were released from prison.

Virginia abolished parole in 1995, but people convicted of felonies before that date were still eligible for early release. Those who remained in prison in 2020 were serving lengthy sentences, often for violent crimes.

This year the Northam Government encouraged prisons to release elderly and sick inmates where possible to avoid a concentration of cases of the coronavirus in state facilities. The Miyares report claims the coronavirus was not a reason to release this group of inmates.

One inmate the board decided to release was Vincent L. Martin, 63, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1979 killing of Richmond Police Officer Michael P. Connors. When this became known, law enforcement officials expressed outrage. Martin’s release was delayed but took place in June.

In August 2020, a state inspector general released a six-page report that said the board — and Bennett in particular — failed to follow state laws, which require victims’ families and local prosecutors to have at least 21 days must be informed later of an imminent release Advance payment. By then, former Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman had replaced Bennett as parole board chair. She issued a detailed rebuttal of the Inspector General’s findings.

Youngkin issued an executive order for removal each board member one year ago on their first day in office. Pending the move, members resigned before his inauguration.

This year, Republicans introduced several bills in the General Assembly aimed at increasing board transparency by requiring regular reports and establishing guidelines for conduct.

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