HD19 - Sentencing of Misdemeanor Offenders

Executive Summary:
During the 2001 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Robert B. Bell introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) 215, directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to study the sentencing of misdemeanor crimes. (*1) Specifically, the study resolution identified the following focus areas for consideration: (1) the sentences imposed by judges and juries in misdemeanor cases; (2) the length of time actually served by defendants given jail sentences; and (3) any differences that result from variations based on the type of jail authority (single county or regional) and geographical location. The Clime Commission was to report its findings to the Governor and the 2003 Session of the General Assembly. As a result of the study efforts the following recommendations were made regarding the sentencing of misdemeanants in the Commonwealth:

Recommendation 1:
The Department of Corrections, in cooperation with the Compensation Board, the Virginia Sheriffs' Association and the Regional Jail Administrators Association, shall develop model Good Time Policies and Procedures.

Recommendation 2:
Amend the Code to require each local and regional jail to have a formal written policy stating the criteria for and conditions of good time in the facility.

Recommendation 3:
Amend § 53.1-129 of the Code to specify that the Judicial Good Time credits must be made on a per inmate basis by individual order.

Recommendation 4:
Amend the Code to allow for separate sections for Statutory Good Time provisions for misdemeanant and felony offenders to prevent misunderstanding and ambiguity.

Recommendation 5:
Request the Compensation Board to amend the LIDS data base to automatically calculate good time and the release date as mandatory fields.

Recommendation 6:
Request the Compensation Board to provide training and technical assistance to local jail staff on state Good Time Policies as part of the annual training on LIDS.

Recommendation 7:
Amend the Code to mandate DOC review the implementation and compliance with Good Time Policies in local and regional jails as part of their inspection program.
(*1) See Attachment 1 - House Joint Resolution 215 (2001).