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VA High Court Ruling Could Allow Early Releases For More Inmates

Virginia’s Supreme Court ordered the release of one of hundreds of inmates who had been set to get out of prison early under a 2020 law expanding credit for good behavior but had those dates pushed back by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares. The ruling n favor of Steven Patrick Prease, who argued state officials wrongfully denied him a sentence reduction, was the first time the state’s highest court has weighed in on the issue. It paves the way for other prisoners to seek quicker releases, although it’s unclear how many could be affected, says the Washington Post.

A second legal action by another inmate is still pending before the court. Both men are represented by the ACLU of Virginia. Youngkin and Miyares took separate actions to curtail implementation of the 2020 law that would have reduced the sentences of more than 3,200 state prisoners by expanding credits for good behavior. They contend it could increase crime and that the legislature improperly gave relief to some violent felons. The moves delayed the early release of at least 550 inmates — but possibly many more — by months or years, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. The actions angered families of prisoners and advocates for criminal justice reform who had pushed for the law. Many prisoners were notified just weeks before their anticipated release they would not be going home.

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