Virginia man sues Department of Corrections after being denied early release

A Virginia man is going after state prison leaders after he says he was wrongfully imprisoned for months — and he's not the only one. 

Leslie Puryear had served 11 years behind bars for attempted robbery and use of a firearm when a prison counselor told him he'd be getting out. That was thanks to a law passed in 2020 by a Democratic-led general assembly making it easier for prisoners to earn credit against their sentences more quickly if they participate in certain programs and keep a good record — both of which Puryear did. 

Then the Department of Corrections reversed course, keeping Puryear in for 17 months after he was originally told he'd be released.​

"So close to getting out and then be like, ‘oh no you can't go now.' That's, like, inhumane. You don't treat a human being like that just because a person is incarcerated. You have great people who have been locked up and made mistakes who can change [their] life to be successful and live out [their] dreams and I'm one of those people," Puryear said. "So I just ask for justice not only for myself but went through the same trauma as I did."

Puryear is suing the Department of Corrections for wrongful imprisonment on behalf of himself and a class of dozens if not hundreds of individuals. The law allows individuals with a history of violent offenses the chance to earn sentence credit, which is something Attorney General Jason Miyares opposes.

Miyares claims at least a quarter of the individuals who will be released have a high likelihood of reoffending. Miyares' office declined to comment on pending litigation.