Public Comments for: HB25 - Earned sentence credits; possession of child pornography.
Last Name: Avery Locality: Salem

I'm writing in protest of HB 25, in which anyone convicted of first offense of possession of child pornography will not be eligible to earn enhanced sentence credits. The bill is choosing to deny citizens an opportunity to demonstrate improved behavioral conduct, participating in assigned programs while incarcerated and receiving requisite enhanced sentence credits. Please do not pass this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Crenshaw Locality: Hanover

Please vote NO on HB25, which denies earned sentence credits to anyone convicted of a first-time offense of child porn possession. From a public safety standpoint, people with this conviction have a remarkably low re-offense rate – so low, in fact, it’s difficult for researchers to find repeat offenders to study.*** Therefore, please allow these folks to earn good-time credits and return to their families. Virginia should not pay for lengthy jail/prison stays for such low-risk offenders. ***Ira Mark Ellman, When Animus Matters…The Problematic Sex Offender Registry, JOURNAL OF LAW AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, p.21 (Dec 2021).

Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: Harrisonburg

Hello, Delegates; I oppose excluding those convicted of first offense CP from HB5148. Violators are labeled violent offenders when this is a non-contact offense. They have been convicted of possession, not distribution, not production. And despite what those who would incite fear say, they have not been convicted of murder or rape. In fact, the U.S. SENTENCING COMMISSION reports that for most, it was their very first criminal conviction. The COMMISSION also reports that child pornography offenders have low recidivism rates--lower than contact offenders and significantly lower than the average recidivism rate--meaning it is unlikely that they will go on to commit additional offenses. (see link to this reference below) It is the producers and purveyors of this material that must be caught and severely dealt with. For the opportunity to earn an earlier release, they must take classes and participate in programs designed to rehabilitate them. They maintain a job and earn certifications in vocational fields. In short, they are incentivized to improve themselves. To earn maximum credits at the highest Level is extremely difficult. To have this conviction stripped from the Bill, after working almost 2 years to earn the opportunity for an earlier release, would be devastating. https://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/FS-Intro-to-Child-Pornography-Sentencing-8.31.16.pdf VOTE NO against HB 25. Thank you.

Last Name: Ingram Locality: Glenn Allen

Dear Mr Chairman and members of the committee Please vote YES and have HB25 brought into law. There is no rehabilitation for a person who gains sexual gratification by looking at child pornography, it is their sexual preference and the same meaning if a person prefers blondes, brunettes, older or younger. They will always have that preference it may just be more difficult to detect. Taj Mahon-Haft a professor at Radford University assisted with writing the original Bill, having been convicted of possession and production of child pornography. He and others like him have been housed in low level prisons. How do you change a person's sexual preference? The answer is you can't and these people should serve the sentence imposed by the courts. Taj Mahon-Haft continued to download this material whilst being out on bond and is now trying to use the system to gain early release. He was arrested on 3 occasions relating to crimes of drugs and child pornography and had in his possession over 150 images and videos both on his personal and university computers. Taj Mahon-haft is just one person, there are many others just like him within the VADOC, Taj himself will not admit guilt he blames to Police for planting these images. Please VOTE YES TO HB25

Last Name: Nance Organization: Sistas in Prison Reform Locality: Henrico

I am against these bills. People deserve second chance and people who have earned it should not have this taken away. Thank you.

Last Name: Ross Locality: Virginia Beach

Delegate Bell HB735 and Delegate Anderson HB25 AND ALL DELEGATES ON THIS COMMITTEE PLEASE STOP TRYING TO ROLLBACK THE LITTLE BIT OF REFORM THAT HAS BEEN PASSED , this double breaks my heart and spirit because of all the crave outs that were made hours and hours of talks to get HB5148 to even pass Delegate Don Scott agreed to remove certain people based on the crime they committed WHICH BY THE WAY WE THE PEOPLE BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THE ABILITY TO EARN THE EXTRA GOOD TIME CREDITS!!!! A BIG POINT I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE IS THIS IS NOT GIVING THEY HAVE TO EARN IT! I ask everyone to VOTE. NO , FOR HB25 AND HB735 BETTER YET JUST PBI and realize that is the Smart thing to do!!!

Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: Rockingham

Hello, Delegates, I oppose excluding those convicted of First Offense CP from HB5148. They were included in the bill as it was passed in the General Assembly in 2020. Violators are labeled violent offenders despite this being a non-contact offense. They have been convicted of possession . Not distribution and not production. Despite those who would incite fear, they have not been convicted of murder or rape. In fact, the US Sentencing Commission reports that for most, it was their very first criminal conviction. The Commission also reports that CP offenders have low recidivism rates— lower than contact offenders and significantly lower than the average recidivism rate—meaning it is very unlikely they will go on to commit additional offenses. It is the producers of this material that must be caught and severely dealt with. To have this offense stripped from the bill, after families and inmates have been working and planning on them returning to their families sooner, would be heartbreaking. Please Vote No Against HB 25 Thank you. Debra Turner Valley Justice Coalition HTTPS://fAMM.org/wp-content/uploads/FS-Intro-to-Child-Pornography-Sentencing-8.31.16.pdf

Last Name: Venskoske Locality: Frederick County

I am opposed to HB25. With a conviction of possession of child pornography from 2007, it has reduced the amount of work that I am skilled at doing and it hurts our small business. Thank you

Last Name: Welch Organization: Safer Virginia Locality: Roanoke

The regressive bill is choosing to deny citizens an opportunity to demonstrate improved behavioral conduct, participating in assigned programs while incarcerated and receiving requisite enhanced sentence credits. The law that goes into effect on July 1, 2022 should stand. Then the current system will be replaced with a four-level classification system, correctly allowing sentence credits to be earned based on an inmate’s behavioral conduct and participation in all programs to which the inmate is assigned. We should make every effort in the Commonwealth to encourage rehabilitation during incarceration so that families can be reunited and individuals can be productive employees in society, not wards of the carceral state for a day longer than absolutely necessary.

Last Name: Carter Organization: The Humanization Project Locality: Christiansburg

The Humanization Project would like to express our objection to HB 735 and HB 25. We will keep this brief, as we know you have a lot to look through and hear from people, and we feel this is very simple. HB 735 would undo all of your hard work of earned sentence credit expansion. While the earned sentence credit expansion legislation last year was based on evidence and best practices, rooted in the values of equity, racial justice, and second chances, this bill is clearly only meant to fear monger and create sound bites. Undoing the first stages of reform will simply return us to a broken system that perpetuates crime and poverty. Earned sentence credit expansion should have included all people behind bars. Those who have done the worst things are those who we should most want to have incentive to become better people. You all worked so hard to negotiate and include as many people as possible, and while we would have liked all to be included, we are grateful for the work that you did. HB 25 would carve out yet another low-level, non-violent offense–an offense often set upon 18 year olds in consenting high school relationships. Continuing to carve out offenses disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities, our communities of color. Please look past the stigma and stand against HB 25. Apologies that we could not be here today to speak, but we urge you, please vote no on HB 735 and HB 25. Thank you.

Last Name: Temple Organization: Coalition Against Solitary Confinement, Valley Justice Coalition, Mennonite faith communities Locality: Rockingham

I am opposed to ANY erosion of "Earned Sentence Credits". People who are held prisoner in any of our carceral facilities must be given opportunities to earn credits by any actions they take to engage with good things for themselves and for others who are incarcerated. Please vote NO on any bills which would take away persons' opportunities for Earned Sentence Credits. (HB 25, HB 735, HB 5148) Rather, please create MORE OPPORTUNITIES for Earned Sentence Credits.

Last Name: Jordan Locality: Dinwiddie

HB735 - Bell : the community is against this bill. The inmates here in VA have served their time, some serving time for crimes they did not commit. The prisons and jails house people who deserve a second chance and deserve an opportunity to be rehabilitated. This bill will not make Virginia great again, it will actually push Virginia back in time. Let’s move forward and STOP this bill from trying to repeal the four- classification system. The people housed in VA prisons and jails along with the entire community needs to give these humans another chance that they are productive citizens outside of those prison and jail walls! HB25- Anderson: The community is against this bill. Anyone who is trying to harm children with child pornography should not be eligible for the enhanced sentencing credits effective July 1, 2022. If it’s somebody first offense and they get released early they may be encouraged to go involve another child with pornography and put them in danger. This bill seems to support the Jeffrey Epstein’s and Ghislaine Maxwell’s of Virginia and the community is against it!

Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: ROCKINGHAM

I am Debra Turner of the Valley Justice Coalition. This bill and this conviction were debated at length almost 2 years ago. The Earned Sentence Credits Bill which includes this offense was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. We oppose excluding those convicted of first offense child pornography from HB5148. Violators are inaccurately labeled violent offenders; this is a non-contact SO. They have been convicted of possession, not distribution, not production. And despite what those who would incite fear say, they have not been convicted of rape or murder. In fact, the U.S. SENTENCING COMMISSION reports that for most, it was their very first criminal conviction. The COMMISSION also reports that child pornography offenders have low recidivism rates--lower than contact offenders and significantly lower than the average recidivism rate--meaning it is unlikely that they will go on to commit additional offenses. It is the producers and purveyors of this material that must be caught and severely dealt with. For the opportunity to earn an earlier release, they must take classes and participate in programs designed to rehabilitate them. They maintain a job and earn certifications in vocational fields. In short, they are incentivized to improve themselves. To earn maximum credits at the highest Level is extremely difficult. To have this conviction stripped from the Bill, after working almost 2 years to earn the opportunity for an earlier release, would be devastating. VOTE NO against HB 25. Thank you. https://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/FS-Intro-to-Child-Pornography-Sentencing-8.31.16.pdf

Last Name: Hodge Locality: Halifax

Please vote YES for this bill HB25. I believe earned sentence credits is a good and productive thing for the ones who truly have shown improvement while incarcerated, however certain offenses you don't change from due to a mental issue as an desire which this offense child pornography is one!!! I am 100 percent against this crime! This exclusion should have never been added!! I truly believe each and everyone who is voting should do their part for our Commonwealth State and look into these codes before voting. Thank You for your time!!

Last Name: Mahaney Locality: Midlothian

With the broad definition of pornography this casts the net too far and wide to be fair. It appears this introduced bill is based on the 'fear factor' vs any kind of verified effectiveness study. We continue to make it harder and harder for people to return to society and hope to live a productive life without having to add more collateral damages. Let the voice of reason prevail. Mass incarceration does not make our communities safer - prevention and support are the answer.

End of Comments