Republican lawmakers raise concerns about pending parole board report

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:18 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - An investigation sparked by controversy involving the Virginia Parole Board is due to be completed next week. But even before its release, leading Republicans are dismissing the review as a “partisan whitewash.”

In early April, Governor Northam proposed and lawmakers approved $250,000 for the independent review.

It focuses on an investigation conducted by the Office of the State Inspector General after the release of inmate Vincent Martin. Martin was serving a life sentence for the murder of a Richmond police officer, when he was paroled last year.

“And to me, when they came forward with this very narrow investigation, they wanted to guarantee there wasn’t a true probe of what’s been going on,” said Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford Co.). Newman and Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham Co.) say the Martin case is just the tip of the iceberg, and the review of the Office of the Inspector General is an effort to scapegoat the agency.

The review, they say, won’t get to the most important questions surrounding a number of parole decisions.

“We really want to get to the bottom of the questions,” Newman told WDBJ7 in an interview. “Why were victims not notified? Why were law enforcement not notified. Why were prosecutors not notified? And why did they release the most violent criminals during this activity. And that we think is really what this investigation should be about.”

Governor Northam’s press secretary Alena Yarmosky provided the following response:

“This is beginning to look like a pattern, with Republicans attempting to discredit something that hasn’t even happened yet. They seem desperate to divert attention from the fact that Virginia just posted the largest revenue increase in 50 years—and our economy is on fire thanks to one of the best COVID responses in the country.

“I will note that this is an independent, third-party investigation that was passed and funded by the General Assembly. This issue is too important for politics, and it’s a shame to see these partisan games.”

The report will be submitted to the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly from both parties.

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