Tuesday, July 28, 2009

McDonnell Supports Special Session Action to Help Arthur Whitfield

Whitfield Received Absolute Pardon from Governor After Serving 22 Years in Prison. Legislation Sponsored by Senator Ken Stolle Would Provide Immediate Compensation for Whitfield .


RICHMOND- Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, today called on the General Assembly to take up legislation providing immediate state compensation for Arthur Whitfield when the body meets in special session on August 19th.

Arthur Whitfield served 22 years in prison. As a result of DNA testing in 2004, the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney called on the parole board to release him from prison immediately. In April of this year Mr. Whitfield received an absolute pardon from Governor Kaine. However, due to issues regarding the timing of his parole and pardon, Mr. Whitfield has not received any state assistance meant to be provided to wrongfully imprisoned individuals.

Speaking about the matter McDonnell remarked, “Arthur Whitfield received an absolute pardon from the Governor after serving 22 years in prison. Following his release in 2004 his transition back into society has been very difficult. Unfortunately the timing of Mr. Whitfield’s release and subsequent absolute pardon have left him unable to receive the state restitution meant to be provided to pardoned individuals. This upcoming special session of the General Assembly provides the Commonwealth with the unexpected opportunity to help Mr. Whitfield immediately. We should take this opportunity to act.”

McDonnell continued, “Legislation proposed by Senator Ken Stolle will grant Mr. Whitfield the financial assistance he needs, without further delay. To wait until this winter to address his case is unnecessary, and unfair to Mr. Whitfield. I know the Governor has called the special session to address a specific issue. I agree this special session should be narrow in scope. However, it is possible to pass a procedural resolution that limits the session to these two matters. I believe this is the right action to take both for Mr. Whitfield and for justice in the Commonwealth. I urge the Governor and leaders in the House and Senate to allow for the consideration of Senator Stolle’s legislation during the special session. Mr. Whitfield has received an absolute pardon. He should be provided financial relief from the Commonwealth as soon as possible.”

McDonnell concluded, “Virginia has one of the most thorough and efficient criminal justice systems in the world. We punish criminals severely and strongly protect victims. Extremely rarely is someone wrongfully convicted. If this happens, we must correct it promptly.”

Senator Stolle’s legislation would provide Whitfield, who suffers from health problems and has faced significant financial difficulties following his incarceration, with a total of $445,703. The amount would be equal to nearly $20,000 for each year Whitfield spent in prison, and is based on a 2004 formula previously established by the state. Whitfield would receive $89,000 immediately, with the rest distributed annually over the next 25 years. The state would also provide Whitfield $10,000 in tuition assistance to attend any Virginia Community College.

Senator Ralph Northam will co-sponsor the Senate legislation with Senator Stolle.

For more details about Mr. Whitfield’s case please see: http://hamptonroads.com/2009/07/norfolk-man-wrongfully-jailed-long-wait-restitution

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , , ,


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