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Prisoner’s Master Carpenter Skills Nets Opportunity to Serve and Receive Freedom

A Virginia man who was sentenced to prison in several counties has avoided being sent to prison, and his skill set is being attributed to remaining in jail and release.

Lawrence “Junior” Wood faced 36 different counts in six different counties. The charges ranged from obtaining money by false pretenses to forgery. Wood reached a plea agreement on the charges, resulting in sentences of one to two years. Since none of the judges announced the sentences to run concurrently, they were all to run consecutive to each other.

For the last seven years, Woods have remained at the Rappahannock County Jail. “I’ve talked to the Department of Corrections, and they say they always pick up within 30 to 60 days,” said Culpeper County Circuit Judge Susan Whitlock. “It’s a marvel to me that he has been in jail for 7 years.”

While there is no official rationale for Wood remaining in jail all those years, there is circumstantial evidence that it occurred because of the fact he is a master carpenter. Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Smith found a use for him and put him to work.

 “He proactively built the addition onto the Rappahannock jail,” said Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins, who was a captain in Rappahannock County when the work was done. He noted that Wood was involved in other Rappahannock County Civic projects, and he “Saved the county tens of thousands of dollars.”

In 2010, Sheriff Smith loaned Wood to Culpeper County. Once again, he saved tens of thousands of dollars by framing a concession stand at the Culpeper Sports Complex. Based upon those contributions, several officials persuaded attorney Frank Reynolds to petition several courts to allow the sentences to run concurrently rather than consecutively. Each court agreed.

 “The judge at Spotsylvania said it was time for Wood to make restitution to the victim there, who is now 86,” said Reynolds. In my 42 years of practicing law, I have never seen this kind of support or this kind of record.”

Had Wood been transferred to state prison, the courts would have lost jurisdiction to alter his sentences. Since he remained in jail, they were able to make an amendment and set him free. Wood will still have a suspended eight year sentence from Spotsylvania county should he again run afoul of the law.

Source: The Free Lance Star

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