RICHMOND, Va. – In its response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Leslie Puryear by the ACLU of Virginia and Relman Colfax PLLC, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) announced that it had released Mr. Puryear and would no longer withhold expanded earned sentence credits from people with convictions for attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit robbery or carjacking, based on the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling in Prease v Clarke, which the ACLU of Virginia argued earlier this year.
In response to the announcement, ACLU of Virginia Senior Supervising Attorney Vishal Agraharkar released the following statement:
“VADOC’s decision to recognize the earned sentence credits of everyone with circumstances similar to Mr. Puryear’s is a step in the right direction. Potentially hundreds of people who’ve worked for years to earn their release will finally get it. That’s good news, and we’re thrilled that Mr. Puryear is home with his family, who have been eagerly anticipating his return since they were first told his hard work had paid off more than a year ago.
“But the change in policy noted by VADOC in its court filing fails to acknowledge the hard work of thousands of other people – people who worked just as hard as Mr. Puryear, and people who Virginia lawmakers already decided should be reunited with their families. We’ll keep pushing VADOC to recognize their hard work until everyone who has earned their release can come home.”
Relman Colfax Partner Rebecca Livengood said:
“We’re thrilled that Mr. Puryear made it home for the holidays to his wife and children, who looked forward to his return more than a year ago only to have their hearts broken when VADOC reversed course. The department’s choice to treat some offenses as ineligible for earned sentence credits was a slap in the face to his family and to the Virginia lawmakers who had already decided that he and others in his position could earn sentence credits.
“While this is good news for those in similar circumstances to Mr. Puryear to whom VADOC will apply credits, there are still thousands more who we believe should be released. It’s time for VADOC to make good on the promise that lawmakers made so that more families like the Puryears can spend their holidays together.”