CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

Virginia’s murder rate climbed to its highest level since the late 1990s last year, according to crime statistics released by the Virginia State Police this week. Police reported 537 homicides in 2020, up from 455 in 2019, bringing the rate per 100,000 residents to just over six --- a number...
“Do you believe us now?” That’s what Black people are saying across Virginia about the way people of color are stopped, sweated and searched by law-enforcement officers in the state. Often based on racial profiling. Often due to nothing more than a whim. First came the now-viral video of two Windsor...
When a group of prosecutors representing some of Virginia’s biggest localities banded together to pursue criminal justice reform initiatives last year, one large, heavily Democratic city was conspicuously absent. Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin says she didn’t join the group, called the Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice, because she “doesn’t...
WASHINGTON — A year after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, his family returned Tuesday to Washington, D.C., where lawmakers have been attempting to craft a bipartisan bill to overhaul the nation’s policing laws. Congress failed to act by the anniversary of Floyd’s death — the deadline that President...
For years, prison officials in Virginia have focused on visitors as they sought to crack down on the flow of drugs and contraband to incarcerated people. They strip-searched children, banned menstruating women from wearing tampons and limited the number of people prisoners could put on their visitors list. So when the...
Black drivers in Virginia are almost two times more likely than White drivers to be pulled over by police and three times more likely to have their vehicles searched, according to data collected under the state’s new Community Policing Act. The records offer a first-of-its-kind look at traffic enforcement in...
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has promised a crackdown on so-called “ghost guns,” and during a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, law enforcement officials from Pennsylvania and Maryland described how an exponential increase in those firearms — which are easily assembled from kits and not subject to federal gun laws —...
By Michael J. Armstrong and Paul Seaborn The inherent contradictions of American cannabis laws seem to appear in the news almost every week. At the state level, for example, Virginia recently became the latest jurisdiction to allow adult cannabis use, effective this July 1. But just days later, a court upheld United States...
Police officers in Windsor’s small, now-maligned department will receive training next month on best practices and de-escalation techniques during encounters with citizens, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police told me this week.  Dana Schrad said her organization helped set up the two-day training session, following...
Marijuana will be legal to possess and grow in Virginia on July 1, but people serving jail and prison sentences related to the drug will remain behind bars under legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this month. Lawmakers had considered including a provision that would have granted resentencing hearings...