NORFOLK, Va. — The chairwoman of Virginia’s parole board said it will reinterpret a three-strikes law in a way that could free hundreds of inmates.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk reported Saturday that the now-defunct version of the law has kept offenders in prison for decades. Many were convicted of crimes such as robberies in which no one was injured.

Adrianne Bennett, the parole board’s chairwoman, said the state will only classify someone as a three striker if he or she committed the crimes between stints in prison. Inmates whose crimes were committed in the same stretch of time — and who had never been to prison before — could be freed.

The change follows the newspaper’s investigation into the version of the three-strikes law that was in effect from 1982 to 1995.

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