Virginia Beach woman wants to cut cord on free phone calls for Virginia prisoners

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Newspaper clippings, yellowed by the years, tell the story of Harry Shouse’s short life. In an interview from her Virginia Beach home, his sister, Georgiann Allen, offers narration while thumbing through stories and photos.

“This is my brother when he was in Ohio becoming a fireman,” Allen said as she reminisced while viewing family photos. “He’s the one right there. This is where they were shown how to do your gear when you’re a fireman.

“Then he moved down here. My first niece was born and he was the godfather. And those are my two children and my sisters.”

Chesapeake is where the 37-year-old’s life ended on June 11, 1994, following a dispute with a neighbor. A clip from WAVY-TV archives tells the story of how he died. Again, Allen offered a narration of what her brother reportedly told the neighbor who, reportedly suspected his girlfriend had visited her brother.

“‘I’m just trying to keep her safe,'” Allen said, recalling some of the last words her brother exchanged with the neighbor.

“He [the neighbor] had a sawed-off shotgun, and my brother’s sitting on a sofa outside smoking, and he’s from 10 feet away … from 10 feet away, he shot him in the chest and then decides to shoot him again,” said Allen as she sobbed, describing the murder she said accelerated the death of her mother. “She died of a broken heart.”

Carl Griffey, now 60, is behind bars for murder. He has a release date of March 2050.

Under a bill that has cleared a state Senate committee, Griffey and some 20,000 prisoners in Virginia will no longer have to pay four cents per minute for phone calls and 20 cents per minute for video calls.

The bill’s patron, Sen. Jennifer Boysko, said increased communication with loved ones will better prepare inmates for their eventual release.

“Talking about how you are going to be preparing for it and thinking about how you are going to get a job,” Boysko said.

Allen is outraged, saying the bill is an insult to victims’ families who continue to suffer year after year.

“You do the crime, you pay the time,” Allen said. “I’m not paying for my tax dollars for him to get a free call. Are any of these people rapists, murderers, burglars? You know, I mean, serial killers. Why should they all get free time?”

Regina Mobley: Now, the proponents of this bill are saying it could help with safety conditions in the prisons, when prisoners are able to communicate with their families.

Georgiann Allen: Call collect, call your family collect. Let them pay for it. I don’t care about your safety anymore. I don’t care about any. I’m so over all these murders and killers and stuff.

The bill cleared a Senate committee without opposition. A similar bill is now before a House subcommittee. Allen said if the bills continue to advance, she is prepared to travel to Richmond with a busload of crime victims who will have their voices heard.

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