Thou Shalt not murder. — Exodus 20:13 (The Sixth Commandment)
Thanks, Roanoke Times, for running two pieces on August 13, 2020 exposing the Virginia Parole Board scandal involving their reckless release of violent criminals. One was an editorial: “Why aren’t Democrats doing anything about the parole board report?” The other was an opinion by State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg): “A parole board run amok.” (When it comes to covering Democrat politicians, the Roanoke Times is usually less watchdog and more lapdog, so their publishing both stories on the same day is itself newsworthy.)
First, the “big picture” about the Virginia parole board’s scandal: last May, reports revealed the board had opened the floodgates. In a mere 30 days it granted parole to 95 violent felons, including 35 convicted murderers–a shocking 735% increase over the release rate of 2019!
Tragically, we are seeing wholesale jail releases across much of the country lately. If the reason is the virus, then why not have the inmates stay in jail and wear masks to stay safe? The rest of us Virginians are supposed to. On the other hand, if masks do not work in prisons, why insist they do work at Walmart and church and everywhere else?
Back to the parole scandal: Much of the firestorm centers on one case, the recent release of Vincent Martin. Here is some context of the alleged crime: In the early morning hours of November 13, 1979, Martin and three others robbed at gunpoint a 7-11 in Richmond.
A 23-year-old Richmond City police officer, Michael Patrick Connors, saw the getaway car driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Unaware of the robbery committed a few minutes earlier or that the car held four previously-convicted felons, Officer Connors was just doing his job and pulled them over thinking it would be a routine traffic stop.
Martin–also 23 at the time–shot Officer Connors five times point-blank in the face, head, and neck. To add to the tragedy, on that fateful day when he executed Officer Connors in cold-blood, Martin was on parole, having been released just three months earlier for two robberies he committed in 1972 and an attempted murder in 1971.
A couple of questions:
How do we know it was really Martin who pulled the trigger?
After 40 years, shouldn’t we believe in redemption?
As the Roanoke Times clearly points out, the main issue is not Martin’s release itself, but how it was done. In a nutshell, Virginia Inspector General (IG) Michael Westfall reports that the parole board broke its own rules and laws governing the potential parole of inmates.
For one, they did not notify the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney about the pending release. For another, and far more outrageous, the board did not notify the victim’s family, and when the relatives later asked to meet with the parole board, their chair Adrianne Bennett (who was being paid $127,485 per year for the job) refused, citing “Covid 19” as her excuse, even though parole board policies were not updated or changed to reflect the pandemic.
If Bennett is smart enough to bag $127,485 a year, isn’t she smart enough to work Zoom?
The IG report shows the board–outrageously–did not keep minutes of its meetings either. For her arrogant law-breaking and deception, what happened to Ms. Bennett? In March of this year, as a part of their blitzkrieg against all that is good and decent in our Commonwealth, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted to reward her with a six-year term as a judge in Virginia Beach.
As details of these outrages have been trickling into the news, Virginia’s disgraced governor, Ralph Northam (D)–who after 18 months is still refusing to resign over his own racist photo scandal–has done nothing to clean up the mess surrounding his out-of-control parole board. When pressed for the six-page IG report about Martin’s release, Northam released the document almost entirely blacked out. So much for “government transparency.”
The Roanoke Times calls this scandal “a mystery.” Actually, it is not. The elite Democrats’ disrespect and disdain for law enforcement has tragically been on full display across much of the nation these past few months, and the mounting death counts and burned-out cities are proof of it.
If there is a mystery, it is the Roanoke Times’ tone. While I am thankful they published these two crucial pieces, note the editorial’s title: “Why aren’t Democrats doing anything about the parole board report?”
Line 5 contains this nugget: “Why are Virginia Democrats handing Republicans an easy issue with the parole board scandal?” It seems the editor is more torqued up about how this story might influence future elections than about the 40-year injustice to the Connors family or how this flood of reckless releases might endanger Virginians today.
Maybe this is why the Democrats in Richmond voted to decriminalize marijuana this year: they figure if more and more Virginians stay high and stoned, we won’t be aware of how our politicians are putting us in danger and running our once-great state into the ground.