Gail Marshall, a former Virginia deputy attorney general who has provided pro bono legal services to the poor and disenfranchised throughout her career, told LOW Democratis April 17 that there is “a glimmer of hope” that the Commonwealth’s poor record of granting parole to deserving offenders may improve.
Ms. Marshall said Gov. Terry McAuliffe has appointed new members to four of the five positions on the State Parole Board. “There’s reason to believe that our Democratic leaders are trying to make a difference,”
Ms. Marshall said. In 1995, under the administration of a Republican governor parole was abolished in Virginia. The State Parole Board has continued to function since then because about 7,000 offenders had been convicted before that time, but very few paroles have been awarded. The Parole Board has frequently denies petitions for parole with little or no explanation, Ms. Marshall said.
From her platforms as a teacher at the University of Virginia School of Law, as a big-firm lawyer in Washington, D.C., as deputy attorney general under Mary Sue Terry, as town attorney for the Town of Orange, and as a solo practitioner in the Orange County town of Rapidan.
Through the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, Ms. Marshall volunteered with a project that is challenging Virginia’s parole system as it applies to offenders who have been convicted of violent crimes, and another project that addresses treatment of inmates in Virginia prisons.
As deputy attorney general, her review of death penalty cases led her to question the guilt of Earl Washington Jr. Her flagging of the case for further investigation led to commutation nine days before his scheduled execution, and eventually led to a pardon. Washington is now a free man.
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