Metro Funding and Accountability
Virginia has maintained the lowest recidivism rate in the nation for three consecutive years. Our nationally recognized correctional practices and offender reentry programs provide assistance and support to Virginians returning to their communities, helping ensure that these citizens have an opportunity to be successful. Programs that help people succeed in the community after release from incarceration improve lives, reduce crime, and save taxpayers money.
Felony Threshold Raised
During my term, Virginia has enacted a package of criminal justice reforms that begins the process of ensuring that one mistake does not define a person’s entire life. The package included raising the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500 so that Virginia was no longer the state with the lowest threshold. This was the first time the threshold was raised in nearly 40 years. In so doing, Virginia also reaffirmed its commitment to supporting victims of crimes by taking steps to ensure that court-ordered restitution to victims of crimes is appropriately collected and distributed.
Reinstating Driving Privileges
I also supported legislation to prohibit courts from suspending the driving privileges of individuals who are unable to pay court fines and costs and eliminating the $145 reinstatement fee for those who had their licenses suspended. This change could improve the lives of over 600,000 Virginians with suspended licenses. The legislative process focused attention on how difficult it is for people to earn the money to pay costs and fees if they cannot drive.
This new policy will allow Virginians to continue taking care of their families and drive to work while also working on repaying court fines and costs. As one advocate described the real-life concerns: “Getting to and from working, being able to pick your kids up from sporting events, insurance rates because you have to be licensed to have insurance on your vehicle. If you don’t, it drives your insurance rates up…Maybe my kid didn’t get to school because I didn’t have the transportation and the bus didn’t come close enough.”
Throughout my time as a candidate and elected official, I have pushed strongly for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. I have been proud to encourage the efforts of the Department of Juvenile Justice to continue its comprehensive structural and cultural transformation of its facilities, programs, and community-based services. This initiative reduces the number of youth who would otherwise end up in secure confinement. By reinvesting the resulting savings into community programs and services that use evidence-based alternatives to confinement, we are reducing crime, increasing public safety, and enhancing outcomes for our youth. Virginia has safely reduced the population of youth in state-operated Juvenile Correctional Centers by more than half.
Diversifying Virginia’s Judicial System
Actively supported statewide effort to increase the number of racially and ethnically diverse Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders in Virginia’s Justice System. …with the support from the Virginia Coalition for Racial Diversity in the Justice System successfully led efforts to increase the number of minority judges on the trial court bench in Northern Virginia.