Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Justice Policy Institute Releases Report on Virginia’s Justice System

Justice Policy Institute Event in Richmond VA 

What: Panel Discussion, Release of New Virginia Brief Virginia’s Justice System:  Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair & Book signing for Incarceration Generation 

When: Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 4-6pm 

Where: Virginia Union University Richmond Police Academy 1202 W. Graham Road Richmond, VA 23220

Policy Brief News Release- 

Virginia’s Justice System:  Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair, November 2013 

  • The “truth in sentencing” laws enacted in the 1990s have failed to impact crime or recidivism, 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 
  • Whites and African Americans use and sell drugs at similar rates. But in Virginia, while African Americans are about 20 percent of the population, they make up 44 percent of those incarcerated on a drug offense
  • Virginia has the 8th highest jail incarceration rate in the U.S.
  • 1 of every 214 adult Virginians is behind bars in county jails across the state
  • State pays roughly $1.5 billion a year on its jails and prisons
  • Like across the nation, despite the decrease in crime over the last two decades, the number of arrests in Virginia has remained relatively stable, decreasing only 1.1 percent
  • Virginia and South Carolina are the only states where judges are chosen through a purely legislative process. While the quality of judges in Virginia is not in question, per se, the selection process resembles a political appointment rather than performancebased hiring. 
  • The state’s indigent defense system has been heavily criticized as insufficient.
  • The appointment of an attorney for those who cannot afford one, does not actually come free in Virginia. Defendants may be charged “up to $1,235 per count for some felonies” for a public defender’s services. Virginia is one of only a few states that does not currently have provisions for these charges to be Waived.