RICHMOND, Va. — A lawsuit claiming thousands of Virginia inmates have been unfairly denied parole is going before a federal appeals court in Richmond.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Wednesday.

The class-action suit was filed by 11 inmates on behalf of about 6,000 prisoners who were convicted before parole was abolished in 1995. Those inmates remain eligible for parole, but the lawsuit claims the Virginia Parole Board has systematically rubber-stamped denials in violation of state law and the prisoners’ constitutional rights.

The complaint says the board is required to consider a variety of factors, including the inmate’s rehabilitation and conduct in prison, but has been arbitrarily citing the nature of the crime for denying parole.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in October 2010.

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