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Senate Panel OK’s Proposal To Allow For ‘Compassionate Release’ of Some Ill Inmates

The front of the Virginia Capitol building in Richmond.

VPM Intern Alexander Broening contributed to this reporting. 

The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee approved legislation Wednesday to allow most terminally ill and physically disabled felons to be considered for parole.

The bill would give individuals who are serving time in prison the option of “compassionate release,” letting many spend their final days with their families. Advocates say it will cut costs for the state because caring for older prisoners and those with serious health conditions is expensive. 

The bill would not allow felons with the most serious convictions, including murder, to petition for parole. This caveat addressed Sen. Tommy Norment’s concerns.

“The bill improved remarkably once there was a provision that the compassionate release was not going to be applicable to those individuals that had been convicted of Class 1 felonies,” Norment said.

It passed out of committee 15-1 and will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.