Public Comments for: SB1443 - Mandatory minimum sentences; elimination, modification of sentence to mandatory minimum term.
Last Name: Turner Organization: Valley Justice Coalition Locality: Rockingham

Hello, We are asking you to please vote YES for SB1443 to Repeal ALL Mandatory Minimums. HB2331 is not broad enough and excludes many nonviolent offenses. We are asking that you include ALL Mandatory Minimums in the final bill, but if a compromise is necessary, look to the Earned Sentence Credits Bill for a source of compromise. Thank you for making HB2331 retroactive. Please amend SB1443 to also include those currently serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory Minimums can no longer be a part of Virginia's criminal justice system in the future and it is intolerable to allow them to continue to unjustly affect those serving them now. Thank you. Gary and Debra Turner

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

My name is Santia Nance from Sistas in Prison Reform and BrillianceBehindBars and I urge you to pass SB1443, ending all mandatory minimums, instead of considering HB2331 which only covers drug charges. My loved one Quadaire Patterson is currently behind bars due to a stacked mandatory minimum sentence due to use of a firearm charges in a wrongful conviction. While we know the standard arguments about how mandatory minimums don’t work for recidivism, public safety, or fair trials, we still have vastly different bills on the table and we must push for SB1443. If you’re on the fence about this bill, ask yourself: Is it the excluded crimes you want to be harder on, or is it the people who are convicted for them? We both agree that non-violent crimes - those where no one was hurt - should NOT carry mandatory minimums. I urge you all to rethink the fact that charges used to dictate sentences, do not represent the full situation or indicate a violent crime nor a violent person. Let the judges and juries do their jobs hearing specifics cases and using the sentencing guidelines, instead of mandatory minimums, to determine the time that fits the crime. Let the system work the way it’s supposed to.Let’s do the right thing and bring fairness back to Virginia. Thank you.

Last Name: Belton Organization: Sistas in Prison Reform Locality: Brockton

It is tiring writing statements and speaking up for laws that are blatantly wrong because senators are going to come with their made up stats and lies to prevent what's right. mandatory minimums give judges you all appoint their jobs back. They also eliminate racist sentencing towards black and brown people. But that's not enough for you all. That last part should be the biggest issue and it isn't which makes Virginia the worst. It is time you all get on the RIGHT side of justice and retroactively. REPEAL ALL MANDATORY MINIMUMS

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Louisa

I oppose SB1443 : "Eliminates all mandatory minimum sentences of confinement from the Code of Virginia...." (CHAOTIC, SWEEPING, AND IRRESPONSIBLE) "The bill directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to establish a work group (WHO WOULD COMPRISE THIS WORK GROUP?) to evaluate (WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION?) the feasibility of resentencing persons previously convicted of a felony offense (WHY FELONIES?) that was punishable by a mandatory minimum term of confinement...." The work group would report on its findings by November 1, 2021. As introduced, this bill was a recommendation of the Virginia State Crime Commission. Sentencing for crimes, particularly felonies, is too serious of an issue to approach it so broadly. It seems political, arbitrary, and irresponsible.

Last Name: Manch Locality: Albemarle

Please vote NO to SB1443. This bill leaves too many citizens vulnerable and is NOT supported by victims - myself included. Within the past 2 years I was the victim in 3 jury trials due to crimes taking place in different jurisdictions. Over the course of these trials, I worked with SIX Commonwealth Attorneys. They genuinely and actively sought my input on sentence outcome - from start to finish, while considering the MM’s on the table. Removing ALL minimums is a knee-jerk, pacifying move that ignores the Crime Commission’s own findings - not all MM crimes are racially disproportionate. Example: Sexual assault statutes included in SB1443 show white men as the largest offender. In the larger scope of criminal justice reform, are we considering how each piece of new legislation fits together? If not, who is left unprotected? Sen Edwards says the sentencing guidelines will be there, but the current guidelines are impacted by the presence of a MM. Do we know what these ranges will look like once MM’s are removed? Have we considered the inevitable sentencing inconsistencies due to the wide ranges the guidelines suggest? If we take the time to thoughtfully adjust MM’s, criminal justice reform can happen in parallel. Prosecutors have the option to reduce/drop charges and progressive Prosecutors have openly moved toward this practice in the name of reform. Our laws took time and evidence-based data to create. Change should follow this same model.

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

Hello, We are asking you to please vote YES for SB1443 to Repeal ALL Mandatory Minimums. HB2331 is not broad enough and excludes many nonviolent offenses. We are asking that you include ALL Mandatory Minimums in the final bill, but if a compromise is necessary, look to the Earned Sentence Credits Bill. Thank you for making HB2331 retroactive. Please amend SB1443 to also include those currently serving excessively long mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory Minimums can no longer be a part of Virginia's criminal justice system in the future and it is intolerable to allow them to continue to unjustly affect those serving them now. Thank you. Gary and Debra Turner

Last Name: Harris Organization: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Locality: City of Fairfax

MADD opposes SB 1443 unless if the proposal is amended to ensure that all impaired driving offenses are subject minimum sentencing guidelines. Thank you, Frank Harris MADD Director of State Government Affairs

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Roanoke

Please remove mandatory minimums they do nothing but harm people. No case should ever be cut and dry and the punishment should be decided by judges who can take all evidence into account before condemning to jail maybe we should focus on helping people with addiction get and stay clean,assist in getting jobs so they don't fall back into same patterns. Would you want everyone who has a medical condition to be seen ,and treated the same, without looking at the individual person and all medical history where we set a individual plan of care related to their circumstances to help them heal? Every person has individual needs even if they have the same medical diagnosis. The same should work with the law. There are many extenuating circumstances in many cases and having a set punishment for all cases is wrong . Judges are on the bench because they have shown they are held in high esteem for there decision making skills and that they are sworn to uphold the law and to render judgements and sentencing in a fair just manor. So is it not time for judges to be able to see the case and evidence and then pass sentences without being told the punishment and limiting their ability to see each case as individual with its own circumstances. Judges like doctors should have the ability to follow basic sentences for a crime as a doctor would for each disease process but should be able to also adjust punishment according to each individual case as a doctor creates a plan of care for each individual patient.

Last Name: Hakes Organization: VACDL Locality: Albemarle County

Mandatory Minimum sentences are unnecessary. Trust judges to be judges. The General Assembly put them on the bench. They know the case and the players. We already have sentencing guidelines. In addition, some prosecutors use Mandatory Minimum sentences to stack offenses and create a huge "trial penalty" - forcing individuals to plead guilty and give up their right to trial.

End of Comments