Now that the ballots have been counted and the citizens of the commonwealth have spoken, we need Gov.-elect McAuliffe and our elected officials to focus on revamping our criminal justice system. Moving forward, efforts must be made to make the system more effective, less costly, and fairer — restoring faith in the system so that it can work for all Virginians.
The federal government has subsidized the criminalization of millions of young people simply for having a small amount of pot. “Whites Smoke Pot, but Blacks Are Arrested.” That was the headline of a column by Jim Dwyer, the great Metro desk reporter for The New York Times, in December 2009.
The United States houses 25% of the world's inmates despite having only 5% of the world's population. This fact prompted former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia to say, "Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the U.S., or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice." The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up.