In September 2020, NACDL issued a statewide call to action encouraging members and the community to contact their legislators in support of expanding Virginia’s earned sentencing credit system (HB 5148 and SB 5034), which was a priority bill of the Virginia COVID-19 Justice Coalition. HB 5148 and SB 5034 passed during the special session and will establish a four-tier earned credit classification system, with exceptions for certain convictions. A provision to require earned sentence credits to apply retroactively to an individual’s entire sentence has an effective date of July 1, 2022. SB 5034 also includes provisions to make certain terminally ill individuals eligible for consideration by the Parole Board for conditional release.
Unfortunately, In June 2022, before HB 5148 / SB 5043 went into effect, the Virginia General Assembly passed a budget amendment limiting eligibility for the expanded earned sentence credits, delaying the anticipated release of several thousand individuals.