The Bulletin

Two Democrats propose recasting State Crime Commission as ‘Virginia Justice Commission’

By: - December 12, 2019 10:23 am

Members of the State Crime Commission heard presentations in August detailing the current landscape of gun laws and regulation, ownership, injuries and death in Virginia. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Two Virginia lawmakers have filed legislation to recast the Virginia State Crime Commission as a more reform-minded body that would be known as the “Virginia Justice Commission.”

“For too long, the Crime Commission has been focused on outdated and unproven strategies such as mandatory minimum sentences, over-felonizing behavior, and failing to balance accountability with rehabilitation,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, in a statement announcing the legislation, which he filed with Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington.

“It is time that the commission took a broader focus to ensure that while people who commit crimes in Virginia receive accountability and crime victims receive justice, the system also provides for a fair trial and avenues for education, rehabilitation and re-entry.”

The two lawmakers said that in addition to expanding the commission’s focus, they also want to see it expand its membership to include the director of the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, the head of the Virginia State Police, and “experts in rehabilitation, reform and reentry.”

Incoming House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Crime Commission’s legislative mandate is to “study, report and make recommendations on all areas of public safety and protection. In so doing, the commission shall endeavor to ascertain the causes of crime and recommend ways to reduce and prevent it, explore and recommend methods of rehabilitation of convicted criminals, study compensation of persons in law enforcement and related fields and study other related matters including the apprehension, trial and punishment of criminal offenders.”

This year the body has issued reports on sex trafficking, the state’s system of tracking and reporting criminal histories, decriminalization of marijuana and asset forfeiture.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.