(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares released a scathing report Wednesday, alleging that the state’s former parole board chair, Adrianne Bennett, committed numerous crimes by releasing 134 violent offenders from prison in March and April 2020.
According to the report, those released under Bennett’s watch included four capital murderers, 31 first-degree murderers, 11 rapists and 33 armed robbers. Only four non-violent offenders were among the 134 released early, the report said.
Miyares attributed the improper parole decisions to the “traceable actions” of Bennett.
“Under Chair Adrianne Bennett, the Virginia Parole Board endangered public safety and abused its power by releasing dozens of violent felons against Parole Board policies, and frequently in clear violation of a court order or Virginia law,” Miyares said Wednesday. “Judge Bennett’s brazen abuse of her power put Virginians’ safety at risk so that she could promote a criminal-first, victim-last agenda without regard for victims or their safety.”
Miyares’s report alleged that Bennett’s decisions were made with disregard to victims’ legal rights, and violated numerous laws. Violations included failing to notify victims of impending parole decisions.
“For example, the case of Vincent Martin, who murdered Richmond police officer Michael Connors and whose release generated coverage from local media, had 528 instances of victim opposition to his release from 39 different VA localities and 9 different states. [Parole board] policy and procedure allowed for his parole to be rescinded based on significant victim opposition, but no action was taken,” the report said.
“Hugh Brown was sentenced to life in prison for shooting his pregnant girlfriend to death and setting her body on fire. Chair Bennett called his crime ‘sociopathic’ in 2018 and he was denied parole in March 2020, but Chair Bennett ensured he received an ‘extra review’ in April for his release. She ordered staff to stop the victim notification system from alerting the victims,” the report added.
The report further alleged that Bennett’s actions enabled offenders to re-victimize more than 10 innocent Virginians—such as when her unlawful restoration of violent sex offender David Simpkins’ parole eligibility directly enabled him to commit 15 new violent felonies.
Despite these and other illegalities, Miyares said he couldn’t charge Bennett or anyone else because the statute of limitations has passed. Bennett is now a judge for the 2nd Judicial District Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court in Virginia Beach.
The report instead made several policy recommendations, including stronger victim notification and transparency requirements.
The attorney general’s investigation and final report were conducted pursuant to an executive order from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.