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Youngkin forwards new parole board appointees after Democrats rejected his first picks

person speaks into microphone
Crixell Matthews
Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a 2021 campaign event in Chesterfield County. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has offered a slate of new appointees to fill vacancies on the Virginia Parole Board. This comes almost a month after the Democrat-controlled Senate voted to block Youngkin’s first round of appointees, which included a county sheriff, a former Richmond police officer, a Charlottesville lawyer and an advocate for sexual and domestic violence victims.

Youngkin’s pick for parole board chair, former Judge Chadwick Dotson, is the only member that’s been confirmed. 

The new group of appointees includes Samuel L. Boone Jr., a veteran state police trooper, Steven Buck, a Virginia prosecutor, Toby Vick, a former prosecutor, defense attorney and current partner at McGuireWoods, and Michelle Dermyer, the wife of state police trooper Chad Phillip Dermyer, who was killed in the line of duty.

Youngkin fulfilled his campaign promise of firing the entire parole board when he took office in January. After Democrats sped the release of people imprisoned by the state in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, Republicans accused them and the board of allowing violent criminals to go free.

The board came under fire in 2020 when it did not properly notify victims and prosecutors before several controversial releases.

“After the Democrats attempted to cover up a scandal of their own creation and keep individuals from receiving parole, it’s time to reform the Parole Board again and put the scandals behind us,” Youngkin said in a press release . “This group of individuals will restore common sense, reform the Parole Board, and stand up for victims’ rights. In prioritizing public safety, we are ensuring that all Virginians feel safe and secure in their communities. We need to put an end to the chaos and reform the Parole Board.”

While Virginia abolished parole in 1995 in efforts to reduce high crime rates, some people who are incarcerated are eligible for parole consideration if they meet certain criteria, including if the individual committed the crime prior to January 1, 1995.

Filling the parole board is one of several partisan battles underway as the politically divided General Assembly tries to fill several government vacancies during a special session of the legislature that began this week.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.