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Republicans Push for Access to Critical Parole Board Reports

Virginia's Capitol
Virginia's Capitol. (Ben Paviour/VPM News)

Top Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly are threatening legal action against the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General. They’re demanding to see unredacted copies of recent reports that showed problems with the Virginia Parole Board.

Virginia’s inspector general, Michael Westfall, looked into seven complaints against the board. He sent top lawmakers in the House of Delegates and Senate a letter on Tuesday outlining his findings.

Westfall said the board failed it’s legal duty to contact victims before deciding to release seven prisoners and failed to contact prosecutors in a timely manner in five of the cases.

On Tuesday, top Republicans in the General Assembly issued a statement demanding that Westfall release his full, unredacted reports. They cited a state law requiring that lawmakers be informed of the inspector general’s findings. 

House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) threatened legal action if Westfall’s office didn’t follow through.

“The Office of State Inspector General must provide legislative leaders with unredacted copies of these reports,” Gilbert said.  “Until they do so, they are not in compliance with the law.  We will be making this clear to the Inspector General, in court if necessary.”

Republicans successfully pushed for Westfall to release an earlier, critical report on the parole board in August. They demanded that the board resign over the findings, which showed similar failures from the board in the early release of Vincent Martin, a man convicted of killing a police officer who’d served a 40-year prison sentence.  

A spokesperson for the inspector general declined to comment.

Democratic lawmakers in a House of Delegates committee shot down a GOP proposal that would have made the parole board’s votes public, arguing that the issue deserved further study. 

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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