There are many ways for a governor to ensure he or she is not wasting their constituents’ hard earned money, and easing prison sentencing so dangerous criminals can return society for a quicker ‘rehabilitation’ is not one of them.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is considering reinstating parole in the Old Dominion. He introduced a Parole Review and Update Commission and signed an executive order to review the parole process on Thursday, following up his action with a string of questions.
“It’s time to review whether that makes sense. Is it keeping our citizens safe? Is it a reasonable, good, cost-effective way? Are we rehabilitating folks?” he said. “Are sentences too long for nonviolent offenses? Are we keeping people in prison too long?”
If McAuliffe decides the answer to that last question is “yes,” Virginia could return to the days when criminals faced only one-fourth of their sentences, former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R) argued. Allen abolished parole in 1994 when the country had a tough-on-crime mentality. He let McAuliffe know what he thought of his new parole study in a Facebook post Thursday.
“It will be interesting to see which specific felons that this Commission thinks should be released sooner, I doubt that most jurors, dedicated law officers, judges, victims and their families want to revert to the dangerously lenient, dishonest system of early release. And, there's a real societal cost to crime that this Commission should consider, and they should avoid sanctimonious, blissful wishing away of the principle of holding criminals personally responsibility for their acts.”
Yet, McAuliffe asserts that reintroducing parole for prisoners is an effective way to protect taxpayer money.
In the interview with WTOP (103.5 FM), McAuliffe said it is his job to protect citizens, but also safeguard taxpayer dollars. The state houses 30,369 inmates at a cost of $27,462 per year per inmate and a total of $833 million annually, he said. Inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they can be released for good behavior.
“The question now, 20 years later, is has it made us safer or have we spent a lot of money and we haven’t done what we need to do for rehabilitation?” he said.
I’d like to make my own suggestion: Protecting actual taxpayers is a bit more important than protecting their wallets. In other states like Indiana, many prisoners are quick to return to a life of crime soon after their early releases.
Gov. Allen’s parole abolition helped to steady the crime rate in Virginia. He warned McAuliffe to not threaten this positive trend.
Virginia Performs indicates that the Commonwealth has remained well below the national property crime average for over a decade, and we rank 8th lowest in the country. When Governor McAuliffe was elected, Virginia had the third lowest violent crime rate in the nation. Those are positive results of our public safety reforms and there should be no backtracking.