I am proud of Governor Terry McAuliffe. He understands that many laws that are in place stem from a different time period. I applaud him restoring the rights of people with felonies. Racism ran rampant back in the day when it was decided that felons should lose their rights after they completed their sentences. There are other examples of racism in the criminal justice system that I hope the Governor will also recognize and address. Sentencing disparity and extreme sentencing are just two more examples where racism ran rampant, especially in Virginia. I am going to give you one of the worst examples of both sentencing disparity and extreme sentencing in not only Virginia, but in this country, but it is not, by far, the only one. Let me introduce you to Lenny Singleton (shown in the profile pic).
Lenny committed 8 “grab & dash” robberies in a 7 day period while high on alcohol and crack cocaine to fund his addiction. He did NOT have a gun. He did NOT murder anyone. In fact, no one was even physically injured and not one person filed against him as a “victim.” He stole a total of less than $550 and these were his first felonies. He earned a college degree and served in our Navy before he allowed his addiction to destroy his life. What he needed was some help with his addiction.
What he got was 2 Life Sentences plus 100 years with no chance of parole. The judge, without any explanation to Lenny or the courtroom as documented by his court transcripts, gave him more time than repeat violent offenders, rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Murderers will walk free while Lenny remains in prison.
To illustrate his reformed nature, Lenny works every business day, he lives in the Honor’s Dorm, he takes every available class on self-improvement that is offered, and in his spare time, Lenny has co-authored and published a book to help others called “Love Conquers All.” During the entire 20+ years he has been in prison so far, he has not received a single infraction for anything — very rare for lifers.
It will cost Virginia taxpayers well over a million dollars to keep Lenny for the rest of his life for stealing less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured. This makes absolutely no sense. That million dollars would be better spent on preventative education, rehabilitation services, or rebuilding infrastructures — on anything other than keeping one man, who is deserving of a second chance, who didn’t physically injure anyone, and who has already spent 20+ years in prison, locked up for life. Lenny’s case is just one case in literally thousands of cases across the US. Once you realize this, you begin to understand the magnitude of the issue. Sentencing Disparity and extreme sentencing are very real issues that need to be addressed.
Lenny’s only chance at a second chance is through a conditional pardon made by Governor Terry McAuliffe. I can see from his actions that he is aware of the racial discrepancies that still exist in the criminal justice system and he isn’t afraid to address them. That gives me a lot of hope where Lenny is concerned and it gives me hope for the hundreds of cases that Lenny’s case represents. I can tell that Governor Terry McAuliffe is about doing the right thing.
Please learn more and sign Lenny’s petition today at www.justice4lenny.org. Justice will not be served if Lenny dies in prison.