Parole – Old Law, Juvenile and Fishback

Parole – Old Law, Juvenile and Fishback

Mr. Sheldon has won his clients’ release under the parole statute, juvenile parole rules (for those who committed crimes before the age of 18), Fishback parole (for those whose juries were not told that parole was abolished), and geriatric release.  Mr. Sheldon continues to work with the Virginia General Assembly to expand the number of inmates eligible for parole.

Parole was abolished in Virginia for crimes occurring after January 1, 1995.  Va. Code § 53.1-165.1.  All offenders are parole eligible for crimes occurring prior to that date. Prior to 2018, the Virginia Department of Corrections Court & Legal Services had a policy of using the “last date” of a “date range” in computing parole eligibility. That is, if an inmate was accused of committing an embezzlement from November 1993 until February 1997, they would consider the inmate not eligible for parole. Through a habeas case Mr. Sheldon changed the policy so that now Court & Legal services uses the “first date” in the date range to determine parole eligibility.

            The parole eligibility statue in effect on the date of the offenses for which the individual is convicted is the statute that controls the person’s eligibility for parole.  Vaughan v. Murray, 441 S.E.2d 24, 25 (Va. 1994); see Brown v. Virginia Dep’t of Cors., 886 F. Supp. 531, 534 (E.D. Va. 1995).   Denying parole eligibility to a person who was eligible at the time of their crimes is a violation of the ex post facto clause.  Fender v. Thompson, 883 F.2d 303, 305 (4th Cir. 1989). The General Assembly can grant inmates greater, but not lesser, parole rights.

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