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LEGISLATIVE AGENDA - END MASS INCARCERATION

"Correcting Sentencing Errors of the Past that Remain Uncorrected"

FISHBACK V COMMONWEALTH (1995-2000) REFORM
​​Jury deliberations are weighty and complex, making it vital participants be able to factor in all the relevant information. Yet, for five years, juries in Virginia imposed heavy-handed sentences without knowing the state had decided to abolish its parole system.

In cases where juries inquired as to whether a defendant might one day be eligible for parole --- judges replied that, because of a legal restrictions, they weren’t allowed to answer.

Looking back, jurors who served during this period (1995 to 2000) have said they would have imposed shorter, fairer sentences, had they known parole release wasn’t being offered to prisoners, anymore.

The purpose of a proposed bill is to correct a grave injustice that remains uncorrected. Some of the men and women sentenced by juries prior to Fishback remain imprisoned due to the unusually long sentences imposed by the uninstructed jury. A bill will afford them the opportunity to be sentenced using the original and sealed "Sentencing Recommendation" submitted by the Office of Parole and Probation at time of trial or an opportunity to negotiate a reduced sentence. ###


The Virginia legislature has failed to fix this egregious mistake/error/injustice. The fair and just remedy to correct this mistake by granting new sentences using incarcerated defendants secured/original sentencing recommendation or to plead to a lessor charge. 








CLICK ON THE BELOW ONLINE LETTER/PETITION LINK
TWO (2) SENTENCING REFORM BILLS - ONE (1) PETITION
GOAL:  10,000 SIGNATURES
CLICK ON BELOW PETITION LINK & SIGN TODAY

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-the-unfair-sentencing-trap-in-va

LEGISLATIVE CONTACTS

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MUST READ:  LANDMARK "UNGER V. MARYLAND"
From A Life Term To Life On The Outside: When Aging Felons Are Freed
Convicts in Md. released early by a landmark ruling haven't re-offended.   Karriem Saleem El-Amin of Baltimore is one of the more than 130 prisoners serving life sentences for violent crimes who were released on probation following a landmark ruling by Maryland's highest court.
h ttps://www.npr.org/2016/02/18/467057603/from-a-life-term-to-life-on-the-outside-when-aging-felons-are-freed

SENTENCING GUIDELINE REFORM
​Defendants in Virginia are getting trapped by harsh sentencing and denied the right to a fair appeal.
Take Kevin Key a first time offender convicted a drug offense with the intent to distribute. Sentencing guidelines by Office of Probation and Parole recommended Alternative Sentence and no more than 2 years and 2 days of incarceration.  Instead, he was sentenced to 31 years.

Because Virginia abolished parole, he won’t get out until 2027. His family lives in California and can’t afford to visit him because they have drained their bank accounts for legal expenses.

Kevin Key’s case is not unique. In more than 3000 documented cases between 2007 and 2013(1) judges provided no written reason for exceeding sentencing guidelines -- even though they are required to do so by law (Va. Code § 19.2-298.01). What’s worse, Virginia law does not allow this to form the basis of post-conviction relief or be reviewable on appeal.

The purpose of a proposed amendment is to eliminate disparity and achieve consistency and fairness in sentencing by allowing appellate review of the decision of a judge to depart from the sentencing guidelines recommendations. The amendment will also prevent judges from justifying their departure on the basis of factors that have already been considered in calculating the guidelines. A common practice that is so inherently unfair and unjust. More importantly, the amendment will provide a review remedy for presently incarcerated persons whose sentences exceeds the guidelines recommendation.

The Virginia legislature has the power to change this. We need you to tell your legislators to amend the Virginia Sentencing Guideline Provision F Code for post-conviction relief be "reviewable on appeal."

(1) 1995-2006 & 2014 to current; estimated 10,000 plus additional sentencing guideline disparity cases.