The offices of the Virginia Parole Board in Richmond. (Virginia Mercury)
After Democrats blocked his first batch of nominees last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is making four new appointments to the Virginia Parole Board.
Several of the nominees announced Wednesday have ties to law enforcement, an apparent nod to the 2020 controversy over the previous Parole Board’s decision to release a man convicted in 1979 for the murder of a Richmond police officer. A state watchdog agency later found the board had not followed notification protocols to victims’ families and prosecutors in that case and several others. At the time, Parole Board officials dismissed those findings as inaccurate.
“This group of individuals will restore common sense, reform the Parole Board, and stand up for victims’ rights,” Youngkin said in a news release. “In prioritizing public safety, we are ensuring that all Virginians feel safe and secure in their communities. We need to put an end to the chaos and reform the Parole Board.”
The new appointees, who will also be subject to General Assembly confirmation, include Samuel L. Boone Jr., a master trooper and recruiter for the Virginia State Police, and Michelle Dermyer, the widow of a state trooper who was killed in the line of duty in 2016 who has since become an advocate for law enforcement families. Dermyer’s late husband, Chad Dermyer, was shot and killed during a training exercise at a Richmond bus station.
Youngkin’s two other appointees are Toby Vick, a former Henrico County prosecutor, defense attorney and McGuireWoods partner, and Steven Buck, a former Richmond-area prosecutor who has handled Medicaid fraud cases for the Virginia attorney general’s office.
The four new appointees will join Chadwick Dotson, a former prosecutor and judge in Wise County who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for a state Senate seat last year.
Dotson was the only one of Youngkin’s original Parole Board picks to be confirmed by the state Senate in the 2022 session. The governor’s four other appointees to the five-person board were sunk as part of an appointment fight that began over Youngkin’s controversial selection of former Trump EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to the state’s top environmental job.
Senate Democrats blocked Wheeler from taking office as Virginia’s secretary of natural and historic resources, but he remains in the Youngkin administration in a senior adviser role that doesn’t require General Assembly approval.
In retaliation for Democrats’ refusal to confirm Wheeler, Republican lawmakers blocked 11 outstanding appointments made by former Gov. Ralph Northam. That in turn led Senate Democrats to block most of Youngkin’s initial Parole Board hires.
The confirmation fight temporarily limited the Parole Board’s ability to function and hear inmates’ cases. But Democrats noted Youngkin’s tough-on-crime approach meant virtually no one would be granted parole even if the board was at full strength.
Though the Parole Board has traditionally operated largely in secret to protect a process that can involve sensitive testimony, Youngkin recently signed legislation making Parole Board members’ votes a matter of public record.
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