Black Experience

Kemba Smith Pradia Appointed to Virginia Parole Board

Kemba Smith Pradia, the woman who became a poster child for sentencing reform after serving more than six years of a 25-year sentence in federal prison, has been appointed to the Virginia Parole Board.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday appointed Pradia, who previously held the position of State Advocacy Campaigns Director with the ACLU of Virginia, to the board which grants and denies parole, with regard for her more than 20 years of advocacy for sentencing reform.

Pradia had been a sophomore student at Hampton University in 1989 when she met her boyfriend Peter Hall, who was the leader of a $4 million crack cocaine ring and one of the FBI’s most wanted. While Pradia had no prior criminal record, having been caught up in the drug-dealing activities of the much older Hall, she was sentenced in 1994 to 24½ years in prison.

Although the Sentencing Project reported that Pradia had tried to leave Hall due to the physical and emotional abuse she suffered from him, she was still held accountable for the drug conspiracy charge even after Hall was found murdered.

She was granted executive clemency in 2000 by then-President Clinton, and her voting rights were restored in 2012.

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