Some 706 parole-eligible inmates are being been held longer in Virginia prisons, at $24,332 each per year, than recommended under the current no-parole sentencing guidelines, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission also reported that as of the end of last year, there were 575 prison inmates eligible for geriatric release. However, the report also found that of the parole-eligible inmates still in prison, 88 percent were convicted of violent crimes and nearly 80 percent have not yet served longer than stipulated under the sentencing guidelines.
Inmates who committed crimes before Jan. 1, 1995, are eligible for parole. Those who committed crimes on or after that date are not — they are sentenced under guidelines based, in part, on the terms actually served by inmates under the old parole system. Inmates and advocates have complained that because of low parole grant rates, many parole-eligible inmates are being held in prison longer than if they had been sentenced under what are widely perceived to be the tougher, nonparole guidelines.