CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

Jury recommends life sentence for Fields in ‘Unite the Right’ attack

BY: - December 11, 2018

Our news partners at NBC 12 report that a jury has recommended a life sentence for James Fields for the first-degree murder of Heather Heyer plus more than 400 years for other counts stemming from the Aug. 12, 2017 attack at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally. Last week, a jury found Fields, who expressed neo-Nazi […]

A storm passes over the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Sept. 11, 2018)

Sex trafficking legislation calls for ‘John schools’ and making ‘happy endings’ illegal, among other policy changes

BY: - December 4, 2018

Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission endorsed a package of anti-sex-trafficking legislation Monday that would open victim-restitution funds to former prostitutes, create “John schools” for people caught buying sex and make it illegal to charge for “masturbatory services,” as one local sheriff recently described them. The commission, made up of lawmakers and gubernatorial appointees, […]

Woodbridge physician pleads guilty to operating opioid pill mill

BY: - November 29, 2018

After his nurse practitioner and co-conspirator pleaded guilty in September, a former physician in Woodbridge pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating a pill mill that illegally distributed more than 600,000 oxycodone pills. Shriharsh Laxman Pole, 65, voluntarily surrendered his medical license twice — in 2009 and 2013 — then turned around and founded Excel Medical Clinic, […]

While Virginia studies cash bail alternatives, local prosecutors and judges increasingly take reform into their own hands

BY: - November 26, 2018

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring says he never got much in the way of training about how much money it takes to make sure someone charged with a crime stays out of trouble and shows up for court, the purpose of cash bail. “So, 20 or however many years ago when I was a junior […]

Despite sheriff’s support, Chesterfield County’s opioid committee tables needle exchange

BY: - November 5, 2018

Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard sees firsthand the devastation that the ongoing opioid epidemic wreaks in his county, as more and more people enter his jail with an addiction and a hepatitis C infection. He’s been openly supportive of starting a needle-exchange program, otherwise known as comprehensive harm reduction, for the past year because they can […]

Virginia’s second needle exchange, which opened this month in Richmond, is off to a slow start

BY: - November 1, 2018

For the past few weeks, Edward Peters has been trying to spread the word about the new needle exchange that Health Brigade in Richmond just launched. An outreach specialist with the Richmond-based free clinic, Peters said that most people he talks to on the street seem open to the idea of using clean equipment for […]

On Aug. 12 last year white supremacist groups entered Emancipation Park holding Nazi, Confederate, and Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flags. (Anthony Crider/Creative Commons)

Charlottesville organizers messaged about ‘raising an army’ and ‘the cracking of skulls’

BY: - October 17, 2018

While plenty of communications have surfaced about the violent intentions of the participants in the Aug. 12, 2017, white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the event’s organizers have steadfastly maintained that their aims were peaceful and that they instructed participants to obey laws. Court filings this week in a civil suit filed against organizers suggest otherwise. […]

Why hundreds of rape and murder convictions don’t show up in Virginia background checks

BY: - October 12, 2018

In Virginia, you can be convicted of murder, but if they forget to get your fingerprints afterward, the charge won’t show up on a criminal background check. It isn’t just a theoretical issue, according to researchers with the Virginia State Crime Commission, who found 751,154 offenses were not applied to criminal histories because of errors. […]

Second immigrant facing deportation claiming sanctuary in Va. church

BY: - October 8, 2018

A 44-year-old Guatemalan woman who says she is facing imminent deportation by ICE has taken refuge in a Virginia church, Wesley Memorial UMC in Charlottesville. The woman, María Chavalan Sut, is the second immigrant to publicly claim sanctuary in a Virginia house of worship, taking advantage of an ICE policy of not conducting raids or enforcement activity […]

White supremacist groups massed in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. (Jackie Kruszewski/Contributed photo)

Why the FBI targeted four men out of the sea of white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville

BY: - October 2, 2018

Federal authorities say the four men arrested Tuesday in connection with white supremacist violence in Charlottesville last year were targeted for investigation because they “committed particularly violent acts,” had a history of attacks at other rallies and are members to a racist and anti-Semitic organization. U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen told reporters during a press conference: […]

Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Northam creates new commission to address opioid and other drug addiction

BY: - October 1, 2018

Gov. Ralph Northam’s new bipartisan advisory commission to tackle opioid addiction across the state, which met for the first time last week, includes more than two dozen local government officials, law enforcement, lawyers, medical experts and regular people who have seen family members battle opioid addiction. The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Opioids and Addiction was formed […]

A sign advertises CBD lemonade at Ellwood Thompson's, an organic grocer in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia is creating strict new CBD oil regulations. Why are health food stores and gas stations already selling it?

BY: - September 27, 2018

This week state regulators named five businesses that will be allowed to sell medical marijuana oils, including cannabidiol (CBD) products, a non-intoxicating compound that a growing number of people are taking for ailments like anxiety, sleep problems, epilepsy and general inflammation, among others. The oils will be strictly regulated: Patients must register with the state […]