Promoting criminal justice reform in Virginia by drafting & lobbying for humane, evidence-informed legislation, and educating & mobilizing advocates for action.
Joined on 1 April, 2017
We committed to pull VA out of the Stone Age of criminal justice this session, and by our tally, our legislature has done just that! We are proud to help move justice forward as Virginia progresses toward a more contemporary, humane, evidence-informed criminal legal system.
SAVE THE DATE: March 11th, 7PM, we’re hosting a post session roundup discussing success and what’s next! Join our distinguished board, & guests Sheba Williams of @nolefturnsinc, @ChelseaWiseRVA @thcjusticenow, & Anna Mendez @MentalHealthAm! Register here:
In January, VA Progressive Prosecutors for Justice went on the record urging General Assembly to end mandatory minimum sentences. We support individualized sentencing and believe ending mandatory minimums will make our communities safer and stem the tide of mass incarceration.
One more reminder if the breadth of this coalition. Ending mandatory minimums isn’t a radical idea being pushed by a few CJR advocates. It is a mainstream policy whose opponents never even bothered to justify their position publicly. This fight is not over.
Many people in VA were disappointed about how some bills went yesterday, but the work does not end here! Also, the session is about more than one day. Over the past 14 months, we have made real, important, change to our criminal system. Thread below listing everything! /1
Since our op-ed is getting a lot of attention, and PMA ("positive mental attitude") is the life-force of JFV, I thought I'd remind everyone that overall this session was an incredible success as far as criminal justice reform goes. @kennedybtd provides an excellent summary...
A synopsis, given the paywall: JFV could not be more disappointed that the proposed repeal of mandatory minimums died in conference, esp. when it had no real policy opposition. The Crime Comm'n rec'd repealing all man mins, as did conferees present at the bargaining table 1/11
We leave you with this word: In '22, let us put principle before politics. If you believe these laws are unjust, then commit to ending injustice. Repeal mandatory minimums—ALL of them. Lives, liberty and the moral authority of our criminal legal system hangs in the balance. 11/11
We thank Sen. Edwards for carrying the full-repeal bill & Sens. Surovell & Morrissey for their commitment to abolishing mandatory minimums in Va. We believe @VAHouseDems (and even some GOP) want these laws repealed, as well, and trust the prospects will be better in '22 8/11
The cruelty of man mins sentences is also undeniable. They bar even the most marginal consideration of mitigating facts. They’re applied unequally to BIPOC to a degree that can only be described as overtly racist: Black def'dants are 65% more likely to be charged with them 4/11
Mandatory minimums are a leading cause of mass incarceration, contributing to a 121% increase in the incarceration rate of African Americans in Va. prisons, w/ Black Virginians now comprising 56% of our prison population—nearly three times the population at large. 5/11
Orgs spanning the political spectrum supported full repeal: conservs, libs, progressives, libertarians, LEO’s, faith-based, victim-rights, civil rights, sexual & domestic violence survivors, racial justice advocates, prosecutors & the majority of the state’s eligible voters. 7/11
As policy, mand. mins. are an abject failure. They’ve been weaponized by prosecutors to threaten defendants out of basic rights to a full & fair trial. Truth be told, that may be their only true purpose: to force plea agreements & deprive defendants of their day in court. 2/11
As it stands, > 95% of criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement. This is because of something called “The Trial Penalty,” which is driven mainly by man. mins.: the stakes of going to trial become so high that any reasonable person would plead guilty (even if innocent) 3/11
Hundreds of Black Americans have been killed after being pulled over by the police. And traffic stops are the most common reason for people to have contact with an officer. The Problem With Pretextual Policing, our full length short film here:
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