CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

COMMENTARY

A Virginia the Martinsville Seven could not have imagined

BY: - September 7, 2021

It took Virginia 70 years to clear the names of seven young Black men who were put to death for a Jim Crow-era rape conviction in which their skin color put a fair trial and a measured sentence out of their reach. It was done by a governor born eight years after Francis DeSales Grayson, […]

Feds expand Pell Grant program for prisoners working on college degrees

BY: - August 30, 2021

WASHINGTON—Prison inmates around the U.S. are getting the chance to do something that was almost unheard of a generation ago: pursue a college degree while behind bars and with financial support from the federal government. Inmates in 42 states, including Virginia, and Washington, D.C., can now get federal grants to work with colleges and universities […]

Virginia Department of Corrections chief paints dire picture of prison staffing

BY: - August 25, 2021

The head of Virginia’s prison system, Harold Clarke, told lawmakers Wednesday his department is short 1,500 correctional officers, leaving essential posts unmanned and forcing remaining workers to work double shifts and come in on days off. “We’re doing our best to manage a dire situation,” Clarke said. His comments came during the inaugural meeting of […]

Federal legislation would require states to fund addiction recovery programs

BY: - August 11, 2021

As drug overdose deaths surge in Virginia and across the country,  U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, has introduced a bipartisan bill that would create permanent federal funding for addiction recovery programs.  The legislation would require states to spend at least 10 percent of the money they receive from the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment […]

Virginia Democrats reshape Court of Appeals with eight new appointments

BY: - August 10, 2021

Virginia Democrats quadrupled the number of Black judges and doubled the number of women on the state’s Court of Appeals with the election of eight new judges Tuesday. Members of the party said the selections would make the court the most diverse in the state’s history. “I think it’s important that when individuals look at […]

‘It’s not enough:’ Anti-gun violence money in Va. relief package falls far short of requests

BY: - August 9, 2021

The pandemic relief spending plan crafted by Democratic leaders includes $5 million for community-based gun violence prevention initiatives, an amount that falls far short of the $37 million advocacy groups had suggested. The original proposal was only $2.5 million. Legislators decided to double that in budget negotiations late last week, an apparent nod to the […]

Virginia Democrats meet in private to choose finalists for eight Court of Appeals appointments

BY: - August 4, 2021

Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate met privately Wednesday to choose finalists for eight open positions on the Virginia Court of Appeals, prompting GOP lawmakers to accuse the party of breaking tradition by holding secret group interviews. “I can’t think of a single instance in which we’ve had a judicial candidate come and appear […]

Virginia Department of Corrections announces plans to de-privatize prison health care

BY: - July 26, 2021

After struggling for decades with rising health care costs and complaints about shoddy medical care, the Virginia Department of Corrections plans to end its contract with the private medical provider that serves about half of the state’s prisons. In a letter earlier this month to department staff, Director Harold Clarke wrote that he planned to […]

COMMENTARY

Curbing killings also means changing culture

BY: - July 21, 2021

Anti-violence groups in the commonwealth, spurred on by a national organization started by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have staked a claim for tens of millions of dollars in federal pandemic and economy-boosting money at the General Assembly’s disposal. The fledgling Virginia Community Violence Coalition has made a smart, critical bid for $37 million of […]

‘Epidemic’ of gun violence prompts call for Virginia to use federal dollars to curb shootings

BY: - July 19, 2021

For years, Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone has been trying to gather data on how firearms flow from gun-store shelves to crime scenes in his city’s high-poverty neighborhoods. Though experts and politicians have floated multiple theories about what’s driving an uptick in violence in Virginia and the rest of the country, Boone says guns are […]

Chuck Schumer: Congress should legalize weed on the federal level

BY: - July 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate says decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is a change that’s “long overdue,” and that he’s prioritizing that effort amid a growing number of states legalizing cannabis. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday unveiled a draft proposal for removing cannabis from the federal […]

COMMENTARY

Don’t be surprised if the GOP tests its anti-crime message in Virginia. But will it work?

BY: - July 12, 2021

One thing is sure watching local TV newscasts anywhere in America: if it bleeds, it leads. The nightly roundup of shootings, fires, sensational car crashes and other calamities has always been a mainstay of local broadcast journalism. And these days, gun deaths take up considerably more airtime. Nationally and in Virginia, numbers of incidents in […]