Virginia Pardon and Parole Laws
Virginia Parole Board
Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-134, there must be a Parole Board which must consist of up to five members appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, if in session when such appointment is made, and if not in session, then at its next succeeding session. At least one member of the Parole Board must be a representative of a crime victims’ organization or a victim of crime as defined in subsection B of § 19.2-11.01.
Powers and Duties of Board
In addition to the other powers and duties imposed upon the Board by this article, the Board must:
- Adopt, subject to approval by the Governor, general rules governing the granting of parole and eligibility requirements, which must be published and posted for public review;
(a) Release on parole for such time and upon such terms and conditions as the Board must prescribe, persons convicted of felonies and confined under the laws of the Commonwealth in any correctional facility in Virginia when those persons become eligible and are found suitable for parole, according to those rules adopted pursuant to subdivision 1;
(b) Establish the conditions of postrelease supervision authorized pursuant to §§ 18.2-10 and 19.2-295.2 A;
- Notify by certified mail at least 21 business days prior to release on discretionary parole of any inmate convicted of a felony and sentenced to a term of 10 or more years, the attorney for the Commonwealth in the jurisdiction where the inmate was sentenced. In the case of parole granted for medical reasons, where death is imminent, the Commonwealth’s Attorney may be notified by telephone or other electronic means prior to release. Nothing in this subsection must be construed to alter the obligations of the Board under § 53.1-155 for investigation prior to release;
- Revoke parole and any period of postrelease and order the reincarceration of any parolee or felon serving a period of postrelease supervision or impose a condition of participation in any component of the Statewide Community-Based Corrections System for State-Responsible Offenders (§ 53.1-67.2 et seq.) on any eligible parolee, when, in the judgment of the Board, he has violated the conditions of his parole, postrelease supervision or is otherwise unfit to be on parole or on postrelease supervision;
- Issue final discharges to persons released by the Board on parole when the Board is of the opinion that the discharge of the parolee will not be incompatible with the welfare of such person or of society;
- Make investigations and reports with respect to any commutation of sentence, pardon, reprieve or remission of fine or penalty when requested by the Governor; and
- Publish monthly a statement regarding the action taken by the Board on the parole of prisoners. The statement must list the name of each prisoner considered for parole and indicate whether parole was granted or denied, as well as the basis for denial of parole as described in subdivision 2 (a)[i].
Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-147, each probation and parole officer must receive as compensation for his services a salary to be fixed in accordance with the standards of classification of Chapter 29 (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.) of Title 2.2. Each officer must also be paid necessary traveling and other expenses incurred by him in the discharge of his duties. The salary and expenses herein provided for must be paid by the Commonwealth and no part must be paid by or chargeable to any county or city, except as hereinafter provided. The governing body of any county or city may add to the fixed compensation of probation and parole officers such amount as the governing body may appropriate with the total amount not to exceed fifty percent of the amount paid by the Commonwealth to probation and parole officers. No additional amount paid by a local governing body must be chargeable to the Department of Corrections or the Parole Board, nor must it remove or supersede any authority, control or supervision of the Department or Board[ii]. Any person who is granted parole and who is required to receive substance abuse treatment as a condition of parole must contribute towards the cost of such treatment based upon his ability to pay, as established pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Board of Corrections. The regulations must provide that (i) any fees collected for such treatment must be paid directly to the service provider and (ii) any person may be exempt from the payment of such fees on the grounds of unreasonable hardship[iii]
Eligibility for Parole
Pursuant to the Virginia statutes, except as herein otherwise provided, every person convicted of a felony and sentenced and committed by a court under the laws of this Commonwealth to the Department of Corrections, whether or not such person is physically received at a Department of Corrections facility, or as provided for in § 19.2-308.1:
- For the first time, must be eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of the term of imprisonment imposed, or after serving twelve years of the term of imprisonment imposed if one-fourth of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than twelve years;
- For the second time, must be eligible for parole after serving one-third of the term of imprisonment imposed, or after serving thirteen years of the term of imprisonment imposed if one-third of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than thirteen years;
- For the third time, must be eligible for parole after serving one-half of the term of imprisonment imposed, or after serving fourteen years of the term of imprisonment imposed if one-half of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than fourteen years;
- For the fourth or subsequent time, must be eligible for parole after serving three-fourths of the term of imprisonment imposed, or after serving fifteen years of the term of imprisonment imposed if three-fourths of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than fifteen years.
Furthermore, prior commitments must include commitments to any correctional facility under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, the United States or its territories for murder, rape, robbery, forcible sodomy, animate or inanimate object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, abduction, kidnapping, burglary, felonious assault or wounding, or manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing or possessing with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance, if such would be a felony if committed in the Commonwealth. Only prior commitments interrupted by a person’s being at liberty, or resulting from the commission of a felony while in a correctional facility of the Commonwealth, of any other state or of the United States, must be included in determining the number of times such person has been convicted, sentenced and committed for the purposes of subdivisions 2, 3 and 4 of subsection A. In the case of terms of imprisonment to be served consecutively, the total time imposed must constitute the term of the imprisonment. Likewise, in the case of terms of imprisonment to be served concurrently, the longest term imposed must be the term of imprisonment. In any case in which a parolee commits an offense while on parole, only the sentence imposed for such offense and not the sentence or sentences or any part thereof from which s/he was paroled must constitute the term of imprisonment. Persons sentenced to death must not be eligible for parole. Any person sentenced to life imprisonment who escapes from a correctional facility or from any person in charge of his custody must not be eligible for parole.
Moreover, any person convicted of three separate felony offenses of (i) murder, (ii) rape or (iii) robbery by the presenting of firearms or other deadly weapon, or any combination of the offenses specified in subdivisions (i), (ii) or (iii) when such offenses were not part of a common act, transaction or scheme must not be eligible for parole. In the event of a determination by the Department of Corrections that an individual is not eligible for parole under this subsection, the Parole Board may in its discretion, review that determination, and make a determination for parole eligibility pursuant to regulations promulgated by it for that purpose. Any determination of the Parole Board of parole eligibility thereby must supersede any prior determination of parole ineligibility by the Department of Corrections under this subsection. Any person convicted of three separate felony offenses of manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing or possessing with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance, when such offenses were not part of a common act, transaction or scheme must not be eligible for parole.
The Virginia statutes further provide that any person sentenced to life imprisonment for the first time must be eligible for parole after serving fifteen years, except that if such sentence was for a Class 1 felony violation or the first degree murder of a child under the age of eight in violation of § 18.2-32, s/he must be eligible for parole after serving twenty-five years, unless he is ineligible for parole pursuant to subsection B1 or B2. A person who has been sentenced to two or more life sentences, except a person to whom the provisions of subsection B1, B2, or E of this section are applicable, must be eligible for parole after serving twenty years of imprisonment, except that if either such sentence, or both, was or were for a Class 1 felony violation. S/he is not otherwise ineligible for parole pursuant to subsection B1, B2, or E of this section, s/he must be eligible for parole only after serving thirty years. A person convicted of an offense and sentenced to life imprisonment after being paroled from a previous life sentence must not be eligible for parole.
Furthermore, any person who has been convicted of murder in the first degree, rape in violation of § 18.2-61, forcible sodomy, animate or inanimate object sexual penetration or aggravated sexual battery and who has been sentenced to a term of years must, upon a first commitment to the Department of Corrections, be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the term of imprisonment imposed or after serving fourteen years of the term of imprisonment imposed if two-thirds of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than fourteen years. If such person has been previously committed to the Department of Corrections, such person must be eligible for parole after serving three-fourths of the term of imprisonment imposed or after serving fifteen years of the terms of imprisonment imposed if three-fourths of the term of imprisonment imposed is more than fifteen years. If the sentence of a person convicted of a felony and sentenced to the Department is partially suspended, s/he must be eligible for parole based on the portion of such sentence execution which was not suspended[iv].
Period of Parole
Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-156, the period of parole which must be fixed by the Board may be greater than the unserved portion of the sentence actually imposed upon the paroled prisoner by the court or jury which fixed his or her sentence. It must not exceed, however, the difference between the time actually served in confinement by the paroled prisoner, without regard to good conduct credit, and the maximum term established by law as punishment for the offense or offenses of which the prisoner was convicted. The time during which a parolee is at large on parole must not be counted as service of any part of the term of imprisonment for which s/he was sentenced upon conviction.
[i] Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-136.
[ii] Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-150.
[iii] Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-150.1.
[iv] Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-151.