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July 6, 2023

Today the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a ruling in Prease v. Clarke, finding that the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) unlawfully extended Mr. Prease’s incarceration by withholding earned sentence credits that he earned while in prison.  

In response to the ruling, ACLU of Virginia Senior Supervising Attorney Vishal Agraharkar released the following statement: 

“We are very glad to see the Supreme Court of Virginia vindicate the promise that Virginia lawmakers made to people like Mr. Prease, who worked hard while in prison to rehabilitate himself and earn an early release. Prolonging his incarceration would have eliminated any incentive for self-improvement, and done nothing to improve public safety. Everyone deserves a second chance, and those who have earned their release – like Mr. Prease – should get it. 

“But Mr. Prease is not alone: there are hundreds, if not thousands more who were told by VDOC that they had earned an earlier release, only to be told later that they did not qualify based on an obviously incorrect interpretation of the law that the Supreme Court has now rejected. We will push VDOC to extend this ruling to everyone else who we believe is being unlawfully held in prison, and we look forward to the Court’s ruling on our second earned sentence credit case, which will impact still more people working hard to rehabilitate themselves in prison so they can return to their families as soon as possible.”