Newsflash:
Mark Pocan End Mass Criminalization Report blasts Virginia’s justice system
Saturday, 16 November 2013 02:24

Report blasts Virginia’s justice system

Written by  Frank Greeen | Richmond Times Dispatch

Virginia’s justice system is too expensive, ineffective, unfair and headed for a crisis, according to a policy brief released Wednesday by the Justice Policy Institute.

“Despite some recent small progress in the areas of post-incarceration re-entry, particularly felony disenfranchisement, the state continues to suffer under misguided policies and practices of the past,” the study concludes.

Reaction from state officials was not immediately available Wednesday. The Justice Policy Institute is a liberal think tank based in Washington.

Among other things, the study said truth-in-sentencing laws enacted in 1995 failed to reduce crime “and Virginia’s aggressive stance on arresting people for drug violations has had no effect on reducing drug use, which has increased in recent years.”

The institute said small changes to state laws could make big differences. For example, raising the amount that distinguishes grand larceny from $200 to $600 could save the state millions of dollars.

Kate Duvall, with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, said, “The $200 grand larceny threshold is the most blatant example of how Virginia’s justice system needs to be modernized.”

“The last time the threshold was raised was 33 years ago, when $200 was the equivalent of $557 in today’s dollars,” said Duvall, who read the institute’s report Wednesday.

Duvall said a 2008 Virginia Department of Corrections study estimated that raising the threshold to $600 would save $1.8 million in the first year.

The savings would not be limited to the adult system because in 2012, larceny was the second-highest offense for which youth were committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice, she noted.

The state has the 46th-lowest violent crime rate among states and 43rd-lowest property crime rate but is 11th in general funds spent on corrections. The state’s annual cost for prisons and jails is now $1.5 billion, the study says.

Virginia’s violent and property crime rates, like the rates in other states, fell 33 and 22 percent, respectively, over the past decade. The number of arrests has dropped just 1.1 percent over the past two decades, the institute says.

That is largely because from 2002 to 2011, the state’s overall arrest rate decreased 9.8 percent, but the number of drug arrests from 2001 to 2012 increased 51 percent, from 25,244 to 38,349.

In 2011, Virginia spent more than $94 million on drug arrests alone and, in 2012, marijuana arrests made up nearly two-thirds of all drug arrests.

The policy brief said that while whites and blacks use and sell drugs at similar rates, blacks — about 20 percent of Virginia’s population — make up 44 percent of those locked up for drugs and roughly 60 percent of the prison population.

The institute’s study also was critical of Virginia’s juvenile justice system in which the disproportionate minority presence increases the deeper a youth goes into the system.

Black youths comprise 42.5 percent of arrested youth; 52 percent of detained youths; and 70 percent of youths committed to juvenile correctional centers at an annual cost of more than $103,000 each.

The brief’s findings will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Virginia Union University in an event sponsored by the Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration and the Virginia Union University Center for the Study of the Urban Child.

The public is invited to the free event at the Richmond Police Academy on the Virginia Union campus at 1202 W. Graham Road.

The Rev. Emory Berry Jr., senior pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church in Richmond and board chairman of the Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration, said, “It’s time for a justice system overhaul.”

“The findings in this policy brief are unfortunately not surprising considering what my congregants tell me about their loved ones,” he said. “This policy brief tells us it is time to reform this so-called justice system.”

Link to original article from Roanoke Times

Read 3259 times Last modified on Saturday, 16 November 2013 02:32

Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track - Where Does Your Legislator Stand

Click your state to see your Senators and Representatives

Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = Unknown
DeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letter
Pocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast Track
W/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPP
Gibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP
SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against
Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter)
Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Pocan Campaign

  • Meet Mark Pocan (WI-2)
    Meet Mark Pocan (WI-2)

    Mark Pocan has spent the last 13 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly representing one of the strongest progressive districts in the state. Yet his political roots took hold in blue-collar Kenosha, Wisconsin where he got his start at age eight delivering campaign literature door-to-door for his father, a long-time city alderman.

    Written on Saturday, 20 October 2012 20:09 Read more...
  • Nash column: Now it's our turn to pick sides
    Nash column: Now it's our turn to pick sides

    Pocan learned about ALEC in the only way he could — he joined — making him one of its few Democratic members. Once inside he saw firsthand how it operates and then, much to the organization’s displeasure, he let us in on its goals and strategies.

    Written on Saturday, 20 October 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressional candidate Mark Pocan, presumed Baldwin heir, networks in Charlotte
    Congressional candidate Mark Pocan, presumed Baldwin heir, networks in Charlotte

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wisconsin state Rep. Mark Pocan has been to several Democratic Party national conventions, but none as important for him as this one. Pocan is poised to succeed U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is giving up her seat to run for the Senate. Although he faces Republican challenger Chad Lee in the fall election, an upset is highly unlikely -- Lee is vastly underfunded in the overwhelmingly liberal district.

    Written on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • John Nichols: Pocan's right: Trade deals shouldn't let corporations avoid state rules
    John Nichols: Pocan's right: Trade deals shouldn't let corporations avoid state rules

    State Rep. Mark Pocan has, since his election to the state Legislature in 1998, been a leader in the fight to educate and engage citizens with the struggle over the failed "free trade" consensus. While trade agreements are negotiated -- usually in secret -- by presidential administrations and voted on by Congress, there are highly significant consequences for states.

    Written on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Pulic Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Like Mark Pocan

WI Endorsed Candidate

MarkPocanSmall

WI-2 Mark Pocan
www.pocanforcongress.com/

Hand Deliver a Letter to your Senators or Representative on the TPP

If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently opposed to Fast Track, they may not completely understand all the implications. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

Button-HandDeliver

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of