One email in particular, between former VPB chair Adrianne Bennet and board staffer Laura Hall, captured sensational headlines earlier this year. Hall purportedly told Bennet that she felt “drunk with power,” referring to her role on the VPB and its granting of early release from supervised probation to dozens of parolees.
The whistleblower released the emails to ABC 13 News and several state lawmakers, according to a March 23, 2021 report. Republican State Senator Mark Peake was among those to jump at the chance to criticize the VPB. Peake told ABC 13 News he feels the emails are real documents of VPB member communications and went on to add, “I think this information shows what we have suspected from the beginning. The [VPB] is out of control. They have operated without regard for the laws they are obligated to follow. They have operated without regard to the victims and families of these horrific crimes. They seem to be driven by concern for the criminal and not the safety of society. Their dereliction of duty is astounding in its magnitude. The entire [VPB] should be fired immediately.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was asked about that specific email and whether the VPB was acting within its lawful authority. Northam responded, “I think we have talked about that significantly and as I will say again, I support parole. I think it’s an important part of criminal justice reform. This should not and cannot become political. This is again why we need an independent agency to come in and investigate and that’s what we plan to do.”
As of now, the only investigation being conducted is by the Virginia State Police. However, the focus of that investigation is only about who the whistleblower is. The inspector general placed Jennifer Moshetti on administrative leave in late February. Moshetti was the lead investigator in the parole board case and maintains she is not the whistleblower. Despite filing a lawsuit aimed at returning to work, claiming she faced “retaliatory actions,” she was fired in March.
Like much police state angst over showing mercy or releasing people from government cages, this illustrates the grotesque cruelty of the criminal justice system. As PLN reported at the time, Virginia abolished parole in 1995. Thus, the only prisoners subject to the Virginia parole board’s authority are those who committed crimes before 1995 and who have, at this point served some 26 years in prison. As PLN noted in October, 2017, less than 3,500 of Virginia’s 38,000 prisoners were sentenced before 1995 and are subject to the parole board. No complaints about the government officials “drunk on power” who have kept these aging prisoners locked up so long. Until a state supreme court ruling in 2000, judges were not required to tell juries that parole had been abolished in 1995.
Source: wset.com, virginiamercury.com.
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