A more compassionate model for public safety puts rehabilitation over incarceration and works to end the legacy of racism in our system.
The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor reignited the Black Lives Matter movement. Communities across America are grappling with the persistent racism in our justice system. For decades, our legislators, our courts, and our law enforcement have viewed incarceration as a solution to our societal problems.
Virginia held on to a legal code that was born out of the Jim Crow era. Our laws emphasize punishment and criminalization over rehabilitation and restoration. Instead of treating crime as the result of systemic failures, we’re creating never-ending cycles of incarceration. We can create a better way to ensure public safety with justice, transparency, and accountability.
MY AGENDA FOR REIMAGINING PUBLIC SAFETY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE INCLUDES:
- Legalizing cannabis possession immediately, automatically expunging past cannabis convictions, freeing those incarcerated only for cannabis-related crimes, driving the benefits of the new cannabis markets to communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition, and investing new state revenues into our education system.
- Ending mandatory minimums so that judges can use their discretion and ensure sentences fit the circumstances of each case.
- Defelonizing all drugs, so that addiction and drug dependence is treated as a public health crisis rather than a criminal matter.
- Ending the disenfranchisement of incarcerated Virginians.
- Ending cash bail and reforming pre-trial detention to stop putting Virginians – who are presumed innocent under the law but can’t afford to buy their freedom – in jail.
- Banning private prisons.
- Investing in mental health, housing, and education rather than jails, prisons, and police.
- Ending Qualified Immunity for police officers so Virginia’s law enforcement can be held accountable for their misconduct.
- Creating a true parole system for Virginia.
- Reassigning duties like routine traffic stops, assisting the unhoused, and mental health crisis intervention to civil servants other than police.
- Removing armed ‘Student Resource Officers’ from our schools and tackling the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Empowering public defenders in every locality to successfully perform their important role in the court system.