Between putting out actual facts about I-66 (as opposed to hysteria and misinformation, which we’ve seen a lot of recently) and the following list of legislative priorities on criminal justice, Dave Marsden is quickly becoming one of my favorite Virginia State Senators. Nice job; keep up the great work!
I am pleased to be headed down to Richmond tomorrow to co-chair the Public Safety Workgroup for our Governor-Elect Ralph Northam’s Transition Team. Gun-safety advocate Lori Haas will be my Chair. Here are a few things that I will be focused on as Co-Chairman of this Transition Committee.
? Reforming our “3 strikes” laws so that those who have demonstrated the capacity to be productive citizens are given the opportunity not to languish in our prison system for non-violent offenses.
? Raising the grand larceny threshold from $200 to $500 so that we aren’t needlessly creating felons who may have exercised bad judgement on just that one occasion. Under current law, these felony convictions can permanently bar them from voting. We can hold people accountable and still allow them to participate in our democracy.
? Addressing what are known as “Fishback” cases in which individuals were sentenced by juries who were not informed that parole had been abolished. Juries were therefore unaware that the defendants would be serving the entirety of their sentences without the possibility of getting a parole hearing. There was significant over sentencing because of juries’ erroneous assumptions.
? Providing parole hearings for adults who were sentenced as juveniles to life without parole after serving 25 years in an adult facility and demonstrating exemplary behavior. This will put Virginia in compliance with Supreme Court decisions in Graham v. Florida, Miller v. Alabama, & Montgomery v. Louisiana.
There is also much to be done with regards to the unfortunate occurrences in Charlottesville wherein the demonstrations got out of control. It is clear that investigations of these events that coordination between local and state authorities needs to be significantly improved.
Stay tuned for new developments as we work on addressing these issues that impact our ability to provide people justice while at the same time enhancing our public safety.
After the election results of November 7th, we have a unique opportunity to reform a number of ill-advised policies that have been put in place or have been difficult to change.