NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project

Virginia Redemption Project

Information for Loved Ones

What is the Virginia Redemption Project?

The Virginia Redemption Project recruits, trains, and provides resources to support pro bono attorneys assisting individuals serving sentences in Virginia’s jails and prisons submit petitions for a conditional pardon to the Governor’s Office. The project is a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL), the ACLU of Virginia, FAMM, Justice Forward Virginia, and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

What is a Conditional Pardon? 

Virginia uses the term “conditional pardon” to refer to an action by the Governor to modify a sentence. Individuals granted a conditional pardon may have their active term of incarceration reduced and be given terms and conditions to follow. If those conditions are violated, the person can be re-incarcerated.

Is the Conditional Pardon process the same as Virginia DOC’s Early Release Plan?

No. A conditional pardon is granted by the Governor and requires a person file a petition to the Governor’s Office. The Early Release Plan is operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC). It was created on April 22, 2020, by the General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 crisis and is only in effect during Virginia’s current state of emergency. To be eligible for DOC’s Early Release Plan, a person must be in a state prison, have less than 1 year remaining on their sentence, and meet certain other criteria. More information on the Early Release Plan can be found HERE

Who qualifies for this project?

Anyone currently serving a Virginia state sentence for non-capital offenses, whose case has concluded (all appeals have been exhausted).

Who does not qualify for this project?

Anyone serving a sentence for a federal court case.  However, they may be eligible for assistance through our Federal Compassionate Release Project. CLICK HERE for additional information on our Federal Project.

The Virginia Redemption Project is currently unable to accept cases for those convicted of capital murder.

My loved one is serving a sentence for a federal conviction in Virginia. Can they apply? 

The Virginia Redemption Project is focused on individuals serving state sentences. For information on federal clemency, you can find information on the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s website at https://www.justice.gov/pardon.

NACDL, FAMM, and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil and Urban Rights have launced a Federal Compassionate Release Project for those serving a federal sentence and at risk for COVID-19.

My State

What jurisdictions are currently being served by NACDL’s projects?

NACDL is currently supporting clemency and compassionate release efforts in New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C. as well as with individuals serving federal sentences. Visit the individual project websites for more details about eligibility for those programs.

My loved one is serving a sentence in a different state, what can I do? 

Even if there is not currently an NACDL supported project in your state, your loved one can still apply for clemency. You should check the state government’s website for more information on how to apply.

The Process

My loved one has been told they are eligible for Early Release how long does it take to file a Conditional Pardon Petition?

It depends. Before a petition can be filed, an attorney must review documents from your loved one’s case. Some documents may be archived or otherwise difficult to locate. Once the documents are located, an attorney can analyze whether your loved one meets the criteria and provide advice about how to proceed.

How much does it cost to receive help from the project?

The Virginia Redemption Project attorneys are providing pro bono assistance, which means there is no charge to applicants or their families for assistance.

Can you tell me if you have received a request from my loved one? 

No. For privacy reasons we cannot provide information to anyone other than the applicant.

Should I call periodically to check on the progress of my loved one’s application? 

No. For privacy reasons we cannot provide information to anyone other than the applicant.

How long does it take to file a Conditional Pardon Petition?

It depends. Before a petition can be filed, an attorney must review documents from your loved one’s case. Some documents may be archived or otherwise difficult to locate. Once the documents are located, an attorney can analyze whether your loved one meets the criteria and provide advice about how to proceed.

How long does it take for the Governor’s Office to make a decision? 

There is no time limit or timeline for how long it may take for the Governor to decide on whether to grant a conditional pardon. The attorney will notify your loved one any time they receive any updates or communications from the Governor’s Office.

Want more information or to discuss applying for assistance from the Project?

To complete an application for a loved one please fill out this form. You can also contact the program via email at: VARedemptionProject@justice4all.org by phone at: (202) 955-6056 or via mail at:

NACDL
Attention: VRP
1660 L Street NW
12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036