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Expansion of earned sentence credits to clear the way for release of state inmates

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:44 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A change in Virginia law that takes effect July 1 could clear the way for the release of more than 3,000 inmates from state prisons.

Lawmakers voted to expand the earned sentence credit program in 2020.

It gives certain inmates the opportunity to reduce the time they serve by taking part in prison programs and avoiding major infractions.

Tuesday morning, a corrections department official told members of the Senate Finance Committee an additional 3,200 inmates will qualify for release between July and August.

The state is adding probation officers, but Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath Co.) questioned whether the department is already understaffed.

“If that’s the problem today, and we’re going to add more people to the mix, we need to re-examine the whole role of the probation officer and maybe evaluate how many you actually need,”Deeds said, “because I’m not sure you’ve got enough people out there right now.”

After a surge of releases this summer, the corrections official said release rates should return to normal between October and the end of the year.

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