Fearmongering Virginia Delegate Jason Miyares (R-HD82), who’s running for the Republican nomination for Attorney General, was interviewed on John Reid’s WRVA right-wing radio show on Wednesday. Miyares is the same guy who politicized victims of violent crime and their families by holding up prints of their photos and telling gruesome details of their stories, undoubtedly without their permission, during the 2021 House floor discussion of the death penalty repeal. Now, Miyares is claiming that Democrats have “all gone full ‘woke’…and they’re just not thinking clearly…they’re passing bill after bill that would make it easier for people to get out of prison.”
Just so we’re clear: while Republican politicians like Miyares run their campaigns by trying to stoke fear about increasing crime and people being less safe, what they are claiming is absolutely not true. Yet, sadly, polls and statistics clearly show that Americans continually buy into these narratives about rising crime rates, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Miyares’ interview starts with the right-wing radio host, John Reid, complaining that the TV news will probably show the mug shot of the Atlanta shooter (“this kid”), even though they won’t show “other peoples’ mug shots.” I’m sure we all know who Reid means by that. I guess he’d like to go back to years past when the media routinely showed mug shots that created “an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of Black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior.”
Reid goes on to fearmonger that if this happened in Virginia, without the death penalty, he’d be sentenced to life in prison. “Are we sure – are we sure – that he is not going to get out? That the Parole Board in 20 years might not say ‘wow, you killed a bunch of people, but you know, we just don’t like the idea that you’re in prison and you’ve been a remarkable prisoner, maybe it’s time to let this guy out’” (The answer here is yes we’re sure, because the Senator Surovell/Delegate Mullin bill repealing the death penalty changed the crime to aggravated murder, with a sentence of life in prison, with no eligibility for parole, earned sentence credits, or conditional release.]
Delegate Miyares then brings up the case of Gregory Joyner, who was recently paroled after serving over 30 years in prison for a murder and attempted rape he committed when he was 17. This isn’t really relevant to the point Miyares is trying to make, because: a) mandatory life without the possibility of parole for acts committed by juveniles has been found to be unconstitutional (the ACLU and many others argue that we should end even discretionary life without parole for juveniles, who “cannot be held to the same standards of responsibility as adults”); and b) Virginia eliminated parole for adults in 1995, seven years after this crime occurred.
Miyares then claims that there are completely misplaced priorities and “you can’t trust politicians in Richmond.” (perhaps he means himself and is “projecting?”) He goes on to tout his “Protect Virginians Now” Amendment—a constitutional amendment to abolish parole for violent offenses. At a time when 34 other states have parole and there is mounting evidence that eliminating parole was counter-productive and has just led to massive state spending on incarceration. Although Miyares tells John Reid that “I know Virginians absolutely are appalled by this,” the truth is that a majority of Virginians, including 68% of Republicans, support reinstating parole (75% supporting it for juveniles). Nevertheless, this candidate for Attorney General wants to not only keep our policy of no parole, but etch it into our Constitution.
Think about the 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment, etching same-sex marriage discrimination into our Constitution–what a terrible mistake that was, and how we’re working to undo that today. And this guy, Jason Miyares, thinks we should “enshrine it in our Constitution that if you do the crime, you do the time.” Even worse, he’s running to be your next Attorney General!
Miyares finishes up his interview by repeating the same blatant lie about his Democratic peers in the House that he has spewed out numerous times on the House floor during the death penalty debate. He says that Democrats “never one time mentioned victims, not one time, not even for twenty seconds.” In fact, here’s a list of Democrats who spoke on the floor about victims — Delegates Mike Mullin, Danica Roem, Mark Levine, Kathleen Murphy, and Chris Hurst, each one of whom passionately spoke about victims they personally knew. To casually lie about the baring of their souls that took place during that session is evidence that Miyares doesn’t actually care at all about victims, but only cares about scoring political points with his dishonest fearmongering.
For the past seven years, we’ve been lucky to have a Democratic Attorney General who has been progressive on a wide range of issues, including criminal justice. But don’t take that for granted, because thing definitely could go backwards. If you don’t want that to happen, vote this November like every bit of progress we’ve fought for and won the last several years is on the line. Because if a guy like Miyares wins in November, he’ll take us right back to the same racially-biased criminal justice system leading to mass incarceration in no time.