Virginians might have dodged the bullet of a mass gun control bill, but lest some think sanity has been restored to the Virginia legislature, the same Democrat politicians relentlessly promoting restrictions on self-defense for law-abiding citizens are pushing for release of violent criminals. One major bill is now headed to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.
On Monday, Virginia’s Senate passed HB35, which offers early release to juveniles serving a life sentence without parole once they have already served 20 years. This is a growing trend in a lot of liberal states, but a number of Republicans have bought into this radical idea of retroactively abolishing life without parole for juvenile murderers. This bill will potentially offer release for over 700 people sentenced to life as juveniles, according to liberal activists supporting the bill.
Shockingly, seven of the 11 Republican senators joined every Democrat in supporting this bill. The bill passed the state House 56-44 last month, with support of just one Republican, and now heads to Governor Northam’s desk.
So much for the promise of jailbreak only targeting low-level offenders. Proponents of these bills try to elicit sympathy for juveniles, as if we should treat them more leniently than adults, but murder is not a juvenile crime. It’s one thing to say we will treat juveniles more leniently for petty theft, drugs, or even armed robbery. But in order to get a sentence of life in prison without parole, one has to be a first-degree murderer, and even many of them escape this sentence. Thus, this leniency, by definition, is targeting the worst of the worst.
The infamous D.C. sniper, Lee Boyd Malvo, who, along with his older partner, killed 17 and injured 10 in 2002 in the D.C. area, is an example of who is serving life without parole in Virginia as a juvenile convict.
Increasingly, more violent crime in this country is being committed by juveniles. Roughly 8 percent of homicide suspects and 16 percent of rape suspects in 2018, according to the FBI, were juvenile offenders. This is not something that can be ignored. The suspects charged in the horrific murder of New York college student Tessa Majors are 13- and 14-year-olds. Does their tender age make the pain of her murder less? Does it entitle her family to a lesser degree of justice? Does it make these offenders, if convicted, less a threat to public safety?
14 years old. Lord save us https://t.co/BlZjcK25Jc
— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) February 19, 2020
What liberals in both parties refuse to recognize is that the murder or rape victims of juvenile offenders are no less victimized and no less deserving of justice than those victims of offenders a few years older. A life is a life. This is not a low-level crime where age should factor in. This bill makes no exceptions for MS-13 murderers or anyone with multiple murders. It truly rewards the worst offenders imaginable.
Moreover, this is not just about juvenile murderers. The bipartisan Left in this country doesn’t believe in the concept of incarceration, and leftists are now seeking to dismantle life sentencing for adult murderers as well. As I reported in January, the Virginia Senate passed the Orwellian-named “Geriatric prisoners; conditional release” bill, which would release, in most cases, anyone who is 55 years of age or older and has served at least 15 years or anyone who is 50 years of age or older and has served at least 20 years of the sentence imposed. Most murderers and rapists would be eligible. The bill passed the Senate along party lines, making it all but certain to pass the House, where Democrats enjoy a larger majority.
What’s worse, these very same Democrats pushing gun control on law-abiding citizens introduced a bill in the House last month restoring gun rights for those convicted of murder and other serious offenses as juveniles 16 or younger!
Meanwhile, although the massive gun ban on commonly owned guns, rifles, and magazines failed to pass a Senate committee, other gun control bills are slated to become law. The so-called “red flag” law already passed the Senate and is expected to sail through the House. It would require law enforcement to confiscate guns, circumventing the normal judicial due process required to limit constitutionally protected rights, upon belief that an individual is a danger to himself or others.
Meanwhile, the most violent criminal offenders who have absolutely exhausted endless due process are being given new parole opportunities to terrorize people.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.