CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

She’s been out of prison for 11 years. In Virginia, she still has a lifetime employment ban from many professions.

BY: - June 21, 2021

In 2002, Melissa Brown stole a purse from a grocery store cart and ran. For the past two years, she had been addicted to crack cocaine and “had gotten to a very low place in my life,” she said. Police later charged her with robbery, and she pled guilty in exchange for prosecutors dropping several […]

COMMENTARY

Independent inquiry says Parole Board investigator was biased, but not whether she had reason to be

BY: - June 21, 2021

A white-shoe law firm the Northam administration hired to examine the scandal surrounding disclosures of the state inspector general’s inquiry into controversial inmate releases last year — allegedly with little or insufficient notice by the state Parole Board — delivered its report last week. The firm of Nixon Peabody found that the lead investigator at […]

Morrissey wins restraining order against former president of Virginia Oath Keepers

BY: - June 17, 2021

Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, won a two-year restraining order this week against a Rockingham County man with ties to a far-right militia who had filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with his office. The bizarre case involved a violent tweet, a threatening phone call and a long-running feud between the defendant and Morrissey’s biggest […]

Law firm’s review finds Va. investigator was ‘most likely biased’ in Parole Board probe

BY: - June 14, 2021

A 65-page report on how Virginia’s watchdog agency investigated a high-profile parole case last year concluded that the lead investigator was “most likely biased” and Gov. Ralph Northam’s office did not interfere with the probe. The law firm that conducted the outside review also found Attorney General Mark Herring’s office helped edit the investigator’s draft […]

Homicides in Virginia hit highest levels in two decades

BY: - June 7, 2021

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 last seen in 1998 as […]

COMMENTARY

Do you believe us now?

BY: - May 28, 2021

“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 patrol officers and their […]

Will the progressive prosecutor movement come to Richmond?

BY: - May 27, 2021

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 need to join a club” […]

Biden urges Congress to act on policing reform after meeting with George Floyd family

BY: - May 26, 2021

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 Joe Biden had urged lawmakers […]

Drugs continued to flow into Virginia prisons amid pandemic, raising concerns about corrupt staff

BY: - May 24, 2021

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 coronavirus pandemic hit, halting […]

New data shows Virginia police are more likely to stop and search Black drivers

BY: - May 19, 2021

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 Virginia, even as the disparities […]

Law enforcement officials urge action against rising numbers of ‘ghost guns’ during Senate hearing

BY: - May 12, 2021

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 — has expanded the workload of their […]

COMMENTARY

What the United States can learn from Canada’s cannabis clarity

BY: - May 5, 2021

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 federal tax laws that […]