Public Comments for 01/15/2021 Courts of Justice - Criminal Subcommittee
HB1777 - Serious or Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program; def. of serious juvenile offender, etc.
Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

Chairman and Members of this Committee, In my previous comment, I stated I do not believe a child should be considered a habitual or serious offender after 2 times, instead of 3 as requested in this amendment. I do not believe they should be considered a habitual or serious offender after 3 times either. They do not need to be put on a direct path to jail. Instead, they need help. How many times in a day do we, as adults, make mistakes? How many times do we ask and pray for forgiveness? If children are now being perceived as bad and unworthy of help. The problem is not them, it is us.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

In regard to amending “least three two times for offenses which that would be felonies or Class 1 misdemeanors” I disagree that the amount of convictions to be considered a serious or habitual offender should be decreased from three to two offenses. These are children.

HB1782 - Wearing masks during commission of a crime or acts of intimidation or harassment; penalty.
Last Name: Campbell Locality: Bristol

This is the worst show on the internet today. The "wordsmithing" is fascinating, however, just fyi. Best regards, Scott Campbell

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB1806 - Suspension or modification of sentence; transfer to the Department of Corrections.
Last Name: Sampere Locality: Arlington

I don't object to HB 1806, as it is currently written, because it has a reasonable time limit. I would object to it if the time limit were changed. I disagree with giving violent offenders an endless opportunity to get their sentence suspended or reduced. Letting sentences be retroactively shortened will rob survivors of peace of mind and make it harder for them to heal. Cutting sentences will increase crime. Keeping violent offenders in jail longer doesn't just keep those offenders from committing crimes, it also deters other would-be offenders from committing crimes, too. Studies say longer prison sentences do deter a significant number of crimes from being committed. One example is Daniel Kessler & Steven J. Levitt, "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish Between Deterrence and Incapacitation," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper # 6484 (1998).

Last Name: Mahaney Locality: Midlothian

My son might still be alive if there had been no penalty for timely reporting of an overdose. The girl he was living with was fearful she would be in jeopardy if she did not first 'clean up' before calling 911. This delay cost him his life. Death Penalty - our judicial system is so flawed that there is no way to know with absolute certainty if a person is guilty. Aside from that, we are not empowered to take another's life as a 'just' punishment. Sentence modification needs to remain in the hand of the judge PERIOD. They have the most detailed information about pending cases and are less encumbered with 'red tape'. Suicide is not a 'crime' it's a mental health issue. Record expungement - give people a better chance to be reintegrated into society.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: H. Eugene Oliver, III Organization: Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Locality: Harrisonburg

My name is Eugene Oliver and I am the President of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL). Due to court obligations, I am unable to be present in committee but I wanted to express our organization's strong support in favor of HB 1806 and HB 1920 . Both of these bills remedy a major procedural and technical issue in Virginia's reconsideration statute. Under current law, a Court loses jurisdiction to reconsider a sentence if the Department of Corrections takes custody of an individual before the Court adjudicates the motion to reconsider. Myself and many of my fellow practitioners have seen cases where the Department has taken custody of an individual while a motion to reconsider was pending. Oftentimes, motions to reconsider are used when there is a public interest reason such as drug treatment, rehabilitation, sickness, or new information comes about after sentencing that would justify a judge revisiting the original sentence. Both of these bills are marked improvements over our current system because they allow judges to reach the merits of these reconsideration motions, without fear of losing jurisdiction due to the actions of the Department. HB 1806 directly fixes this problem and allows Courts to give due consideration to these motions for a period of 60 days. HB 1920 gives 12 months from sentencing regardless of who has custody of the individual and also allows a good cause shown/interest of justice exception to that 12 month period. Both of these bills are a marked procedural improvement in how motions to reconsider will be handled going forward and are worthy of your approval. I once again express VACDL's support for these bills and respectfully request your vote in their favor.

HB1821 - Experiencing or reporting overdoses; prohibits arrest and prosecution.
Last Name: Ross Organization: Inmate Support Virginia Locality: Virginia Beach

I support HB1821

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Virginia Beach

There are so many men incarcerated right now who have turned they life’s around while being in there. Their families need them. They have done their time, stayed out of trouble and are ready to come out good citizens. My fiancé has already spent 10 years in there, he has done all of his jail time, he is now doing his probation violation time. He has taken classes and helped with the younger prisoner to help them with their train of thought. He has family dying left and right. He hasn’t seen his kids or is mother in years. His kids need him, his mother needs him, I need him home. He’s been very productive while inside their. He has wrote three books and one is already published. Some men can make a change for the better. Give these men a chance to come out and be a help to their families, the communities and themselves.

Last Name: Stephens Organization: Incarcerated Lives Matter VA Locality: Stafford

I support all the bills selected

Last Name: de Triquet Locality: Henrico

My name is Robert de Triquet and I am a person in long term recovery from a substance use disorder. I have been in recovery for 4 1/2 years and am very thankful for the recovery process working in my life. HB1821 is important for the men and women seeking recovery from the same disorder I have. It is important that they have a chance like I did. This is a health care issue and needs a healthcare solution. Thank you!

Last Name: Shinholser Organization: The McShin Foundation Locality: Hanover County

We support this bill,during a persons most critical time during a mental health crises the provision of mental health and recovery support services and/or treatment is scientifically proven to be far more effective than a additional criminal justice and arrest. To pass this bill will increase public saftey in the long run,will reduce the impact addiction has on our communities,will increase a healthier community,will save tax payers more money. Passing this bill has far greater positive results than not. Think of it as a "seat-belt" law,it won't save or be good for everyone but it will help and save most !

Last Name: Liller Organization: The McShin Foundation Locality: Hanover

I overdosed on heroin when I was 17 years old. The home I was in was rented by a felon and when I overdosed everyone was scared to call 911. Someone that was not involved in drugs showed up and called 911 which saved my life. I was administered with Narcan and am alive today because of that friend I called when I was dying. I have been in recovery now for over 13 years and I can help people like me every day. My story is the story of so many that I have met throughout my recovery. If this bill is passed YOU will be able to save even more lives. We all have a purpose in this world, I know mine, and you will help so many to know theirs. Thank you!!

Last Name: de Triquet Organization: none Locality: Henrico

HB 1021 is important to me as a person in longterm recovery from a substance use disorder. This house bill will help many men and women seeking recovery from a substance use disorder. This is a healthcare issue that needs healthcare solutions.

Last Name: McDermott Locality: Goochland

As a citizen, a member of the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Recovery community and a person with over 29 years in sustained SUD recovery, I fully support HB1821 and ask that you do as well

Last Name: Rose Locality: Lebanon

Our 39 year old son died from an overdose in 2017. The person that was with him left him to die because they were afraid of being arrested. Our son might still be with us if they had called 911 and stayed to provide life saving procedures by that person. William Everett Rose was a good man who was on a waiting list for an outpatient program when he relapsed. He left behind 3 beautiful daughters and us his parents, a brother, Grandfather, Grandmother, cousins and so many friends who loved him very much.

Last Name: Jefferson Organization: SAARA of Virginia Locality: Henrico

When my brother was overdosing on Heroin mixed with Fentanyl, he might have able to survive if someone there had called 911. Instead, being scared of the consequences, they let him die. If this law had been in effect and made widely known in the community, he might still be here. Thank you.

Last Name: Fryett Locality: Prince William

My daughter died of an overdose due to a lack of action by supposed friends that were more concerned with prosecution than her life. In a separate incident, my nephew was charged and convicted following his own overdose. Thank God he survived but now faces the struggles of having a felony record. He accepted responsibility for his actions, pled guilty, and just celebrated three years being substance free. He should not be additionally encumbered by a felony record.

Last Name: Mahaney Locality: Midlothian

My son might still be alive if there had been no penalty for timely reporting of an overdose. The girl he was living with was fearful she would be in jeopardy if she did not first 'clean up' before calling 911. This delay cost him his life. Death Penalty - our judicial system is so flawed that there is no way to know with absolute certainty if a person is guilty. Aside from that, we are not empowered to take another's life as a 'just' punishment. Sentence modification needs to remain in the hand of the judge PERIOD. They have the most detailed information about pending cases and are less encumbered with 'red tape'. Suicide is not a 'crime' it's a mental health issue. Record expungement - give people a better chance to be reintegrated into society.

Last Name: Mitchell Organization: The Virginia Recovery Advocacy Project Locality: Richmond, VA

Support HB 1821. Healthcare emergencies require healthcare solutions. No one should be penalized for administering lifesaving aid during an overdose.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Legge Locality: Culpeper

Key phrase- "Acting in good faith". Imagine if someone saved your child by administering Naloxone, who was acting in good faith. Would you want to see them go to jail for saving your child. This bill will result in saved lives. Please pass this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Berlin

Sir, ma’am, my loved one, who is serving virtual life for a single robbery charge no one was seriously hurt, deserves a second look, a second chance. He is a hard working individual, who has shown nothing but well behavior the last 11 years and 9 months of his incarceration. Now he is serving a 215 year sentence in Virginia. He has a strong and loving support system outside and an excellent work ethic. Members of the General Assembly, I urge you to think of families like mine and and make sure those already behind bars benefit from the changes you will hopefully vote for. Many of them earned a fair chance of a life outside those walls. We ask you to end mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing practices. We ask you to bring back parole and allow second chances for those who have shown they deserve it. We need to invest in evidence-based criminal justice policies, because international collected data over decades are already showing why our system is still failing to help make anyone safer. We need appropriate sentences rather than out of context punishments. We need to get past these destructive practices. We need to stop hurting our own society. And we need to start give second chances, also for violent crimes. Studies show that harsh and overly long sentences do not deter or reduce crime. These laws cost us millions of dollars but don't make us safer. My family, friends and I ask you to vote for criminal justice reform and bring Virginia forward. Thank you for your time! Dilek Brennan

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

I am in support of the previously indicated bills. Virginia has long promoted mass incarceration through its policies regarding those accused/convicted of crimes. Please consider these in the interest of moving Virginia forward. Thank you.

Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

I wholeheartedly agree with this bill. It is difficult for those who are poor to keep up with court fines.

HB1866 - Court-appointed special advocates; information sharing.
Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

We need a way to stop this online predators in our community.

Last Name: Lambert Organization: Roanoke Community Bail Fund Locality: Salem

I strongly urge you to vote No on HB2152! The only people this bill benefits is the parasitic bail bonds industry which profits off of poor and largely Black & Brown Virginians being locked up pretrial. This bill is grossly shameful and will only harm those who are already the most systemically harmed & exploited.

Last Name: Ford Organization: Virginia Victim Assistance Network Locality: Richmond

Virginia Victim Assistance Network supports Delegate Delaney's HB 1866. As the member organization for victim/witness offices around the commonwealth, we believe this bill will better facilitate victim services and advocacy as crime victims navigate the criminal justice system.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB1878 - Juvenile intake and petition; appeal to a magistrate on a finding of no probable cause.
Last Name: McConnell Organization: Law Professor, University of RIchmond School of Law Locality: City of Richmond

This bill would really help reduce the number of kids who end up in the deep end of the juvenile legal system. Anything that helps keep these cases in diversion will have a long term positive impact on future criminogenic behavior. The long term outcomes are much better when we keep kids out of court., especially if we use restorative justice practices as part of diversion. Diversion can provide the same kinds of services the court could. The key difference is the child is not facing incarceration, probation, or a criminal record if the case is in diversion. And if the young person does not comply in a significant way, the CSU can always send the case to court where probation, incarceration, etc are available. We should, however, do everything we can to support the family and the child so that diversion can be successful. According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, approximately 80% of cases could be diverted away from court, but many of those cases go straight to court instead. Unfortunately, the decision whether to divert a case usually is made at the Court Service Unit level and they sometimes reject diversion for arbitrary reasons that can have a disproportionate impact on poor and minority communities. Some other reasons cases get sent to court instead of staying in a diversion program include that the parent did not respond or did not bring the child to a meeting or they otherwise didn't comply in technical ways. This disproportionately impacts poor and marginalized communities. Instead of sending those cases to court, we should be putting more resources into helping the kids succeed in diversion. I would also love to see some additional language that would go even further and allow a case to be sent back to diversion by a JDR judge if they find that it is more appropriate than handling the case as a delinquency. Every day, cases are heard in juvenile court that are there simply because of a technical violation in the diversion program. The preamble of the juvenile code very clearly states that one of the primary purposes of the juvenile system is to divert cases away from court. See sec. 16.1-227. We should give the judges the discretion to send a case back to diversion if they think that would be a better response to the behavior. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title16.1/chapter11/section16.1-227/ Thank you.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB1895 - Fines and costs; accrual of interest, deferral or installment payment agreements.
Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

Chairperson and Members of the Committee, I strongly support HB1895. Thank you.

Last Name: Tharpe Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much do you owe for fines/fees? “I owe $2848.” For what? What is your restitution for? “[Owes restitution] for using my parents’ bank account.” How did you restitution impact you? “They told me I have two years to pay it and if I don’t pay it I go back to jail. If I miss a payment, the judge said he will lock me up. It’s hard with the environment right now (COVID-19). I’m a convicted felon trying to get back on my feet and it’s hard to make payments, when I’m trying to figure out how to live on my own and everything else. I don’t think it’s fair because you have to pay interest and even if you’re in jail you still have to pay interest.”

Last Name: Royal Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much do you owe for fines/fees? “A little over 600.” For what? What is your restitution for? “Lawyer fees. Court fees. Originally, it was $1600. When I got out, I used my stimulus to pay $1000 of it.” How did you restitution impact you? “Well. It sucked. It wasn’t good, when you’re coming home you don’t have anything. You don’t have a job or car, where I’m from we don’t even have buses. Am I supposed to uber? They expect you to pay it, when you don’t even have a job to pay it. Or have the money to pay for shoes for a job. If it wasn’t for the stimulus, I would probably still owe 1600 to the courts. It’s a terrible feeling, you already took my freedom- it was my fault. I looked at it like I paid my dues, but I have to pay this money to the court. I worked 7 days a week in the jail, almost 10 hours a day but didn’t get paid anything to do that. How did you expect me to pay court fees when I got out.” Jurisdiction Fauquier county

Last Name: Frankel Organization: Friends of Guest House Locality: City of Alexandria

How much fines/fees do you owe? “Approximately $4000, the judge decided to not add interest to my restitution.” For what? “I stole my aunt’s jewelry worth $175 from a pawn shop. My aunt didn’t press charges against me since I was family, but the commonwealth did. She got most of her jewelry back from the pawn shop. My uncle appraised the worth of some of the jewelry and the judge decided that I had to pay approximately $4000 as my restitution.” How did restitution impact you? “I was in disbelief regarding the amount. We should have been able to come to an agreement and it wasn’t fair. She got the jewelries back and I feel awful that I did it, but I can’t take it back. If I didn’t have to pay that money, I would have been able to give my husband the money to pay for the apartment and get my children back from foster care. Knowing that I owe that amount which could be used to do a lot of things, it’s stressful because this is a huge amount for someone who just got out of jail and no income.”

Last Name: Twyman Locality: Virginia Beach

Please consider putting these bills into effect.

Last Name: VICCELLIO Organization: The Fountain Fund Locality: Charlottesville

This is Erika Viccellio with the Fountain Fund and I'm speaking on behalf of HB1895. We provide low interest loans, financial education, credit building and community support to formerly incarcerated people. People come to us once released from incarceration and often to get help with court debt. Most aren't aware they can apply to have interest waived and when they see the process they give up on it. The law was established in 2016 to waive interest while incarcerated and I would submit that the interest that formerly incarcerated people have paid since the law was established would more than cover the one time expense to change the software to automate the process.

Last Name: Longenecker (OES/Supreme Court) Organization: Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) at the Supreme Court of Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA (office)

We have been advised that an amendment is going to be requested by the patron in House Courts this afternoon (1/20). There was an amendment to the bill adopted in the Criminal subcommittee on Friday (1/15) that addressed our concerns with the bill as introduced, and as such, I had not planned to speak to this bill in House Courts. The proposed amendment cannot be implemented without additional resources and a delayed effective date. It appears to us that there will be an impact on already understaffed district court clerks’ offices and a large cost to makes changes to our electronic case management and financial systems required to implement the bill. We will need resources for both district court clerks and for various electronic systems. As it requires an interface, local and regional jails and DOC will likely have costs associated with developing the interface on their end. We will also need a delayed enactment date, but as we have just received the proposed amendment, we have not yet been able to determine the necessary delayed enactment date.

Last Name: Tolbert Organization: The Fountain Fund Locality: Charlottesville

Thank you madam chairwoman and members of this committee. My name is Martez Tolbert I am the client partner Navigator at the Fountain Fund Charlottesville Virginia I am here to testify in support of this bill. All reforms on this bill are important and needed but I am going to focus on the automatic waiver because I personally been through the waiver process, and because of that experiences is why I suggested the change in this bill to delegate Hudson Basically, I used Google to figure it all out!! Yes Google. I also had to call and email a few people to figure out how to get the various forms I needed. It was definitely NOT straight-forward and there was no ONE resource that explained the whole thing. Someone has to be very motivated and have a fair amount of time to figure it out and see it through. First I had to look at the Virginia Code to see what the law is. The statute mentions a Certification form. Then I had to figure out where to get that. And of course the Certification form has to be an original, notarized version! So then I had to call and email the VDOC folks to get a Certification form. The statute says the person "may move" the court to get the interest waived. I then, had to figure out how to do that. Do I literally have to file a motion? Call the clerks office? Eventually with assistance, I got the forms, filled them out, and then had to send them, with a letter, to the courts. I had to send a separate set of forms to each court (Charlottesville City and Albemarle County, fines in both). I had to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with each set so they would send the notarized form back to me! Now Imagine having to do this process for EVERY Fountain Fund client that comes before me. It would be such a waste of limited resources. As I told the Wall Street Journal when they did a story about this a few months ago. This is a financial burden and nightmare for returning citizens. Thank you again for your time,, and I urge you to vote yes on this bill.

Last Name: Sullivan Locality: Chesterfield

I am a nurse practitioner at The Daily Planet and have witnessed firsthand the disparity in our justice system and the unrealistic and burdensome requirements it places on many folks who are just trying to get better or improve their lives after making mistakes. We make it near impossible at times for this to happen by adding more financial hardships to people already in financial hardship. I highly recommend we make good on our promise to reform the justice system to where it delivers fair and equal justice and actually helps folks themselves reform. This bill is a good start.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

I wholeheartedly agree with this bill. It is difficult for those who are poor to keep up with court fines.

HB1920 - Suspension or modification of sentence; transfer to the Department of Corrections.
Last Name: Johnson Locality: Virginia Beach

There are so many men incarcerated right now who have turned they life’s around while being in there. Their families need them. They have done their time, stayed out of trouble and are ready to come out good citizens. My fiancé has already spent 10 years in there, he has done all of his jail time, he is now doing his probation violation time. He has taken classes and helped with the younger prisoner to help them with their train of thought. He has family dying left and right. He hasn’t seen his kids or is mother in years. His kids need him, his mother needs him, I need him home. He’s been very productive while inside their. He has wrote three books and one is already published. Some men can make a change for the better. Give these men a chance to come out and be a help to their families, the communities and themselves.

Last Name: Stephens Organization: Incarcerated Lives Matter VA Locality: Stafford

I support all the bills selected

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Bristol

Just so everybody got that- Bill is trash probably drafted up by my offender's pro bono law firm, and I think it should be treated as such. Best regards, Scott Campbell

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Bristol

Thank you Del. Bell and Mr. Greene of VACA. Glad someone finally said it. This bill is ridiculous, and creates major labor distribution problems for the court system. In addition to being the progenitor of unimaginable pain for victim's families, including my mother and mine. This is a travesty and will proactively cause harm to victims families. You should all be ashamed for considering this act of cruelty. Best regards, Scott Campbell

Last Name: Sampere Locality: Arlington

I disagree with giving violent offenders an endless opportunity to get their sentence suspended or reduced. This bill gets rid of common-sense time limits on modifying a sentence. Letting sentences be retroactively shortened will rob survivors of peace of mind and make it harder for them to heal. Cutting sentences will increase crime. Keeping violent offenders in jail longer doesn't just keep those offenders from committing crimes, it also deters other would-be offenders from committing crimes, too. Studies say longer prison sentences do deter a significant number of crimes from being committed. One example is Daniel Kessler & Steven J. Levitt, "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish Between Deterrence and Incapacitation," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper # 6484 (1998).

Last Name: Mahaney Locality: Midlothian

My son might still be alive if there had been no penalty for timely reporting of an overdose. The girl he was living with was fearful she would be in jeopardy if she did not first 'clean up' before calling 911. This delay cost him his life. Death Penalty - our judicial system is so flawed that there is no way to know with absolute certainty if a person is guilty. Aside from that, we are not empowered to take another's life as a 'just' punishment. Sentence modification needs to remain in the hand of the judge PERIOD. They have the most detailed information about pending cases and are less encumbered with 'red tape'. Suicide is not a 'crime' it's a mental health issue. Record expungement - give people a better chance to be reintegrated into society.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Berlin

Sir, ma’am, my loved one, who is serving virtual life for a single robbery charge no one was seriously hurt, deserves a second look, a second chance. He is a hard working individual, who has shown nothing but well behavior the last 11 years and 9 months of his incarceration. Now he is serving a 215 year sentence in Virginia. He has a strong and loving support system outside and an excellent work ethic. Members of the General Assembly, I urge you to think of families like mine and and make sure those already behind bars benefit from the changes you will hopefully vote for. Many of them earned a fair chance of a life outside those walls. We ask you to end mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing practices. We ask you to bring back parole and allow second chances for those who have shown they deserve it. We need to invest in evidence-based criminal justice policies, because international collected data over decades are already showing why our system is still failing to help make anyone safer. We need appropriate sentences rather than out of context punishments. We need to get past these destructive practices. We need to stop hurting our own society. And we need to start give second chances, also for violent crimes. Studies show that harsh and overly long sentences do not deter or reduce crime. These laws cost us millions of dollars but don't make us safer. My family, friends and I ask you to vote for criminal justice reform and bring Virginia forward. Thank you for your time! Dilek Brennan

Last Name: H. Eugene Oliver, III Organization: Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Locality: Harrisonburg

My name is Eugene Oliver and I am the President of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL). Due to court obligations, I am unable to be present in committee but I wanted to express our organization's strong support in favor of HB 1806 and HB 1920 . Both of these bills remedy a major procedural and technical issue in Virginia's reconsideration statute. Under current law, a Court loses jurisdiction to reconsider a sentence if the Department of Corrections takes custody of an individual before the Court adjudicates the motion to reconsider. Myself and many of my fellow practitioners have seen cases where the Department has taken custody of an individual while a motion to reconsider was pending. Oftentimes, motions to reconsider are used when there is a public interest reason such as drug treatment, rehabilitation, sickness, or new information comes about after sentencing that would justify a judge revisiting the original sentence. Both of these bills are marked improvements over our current system because they allow judges to reach the merits of these reconsideration motions, without fear of losing jurisdiction due to the actions of the Department. HB 1806 directly fixes this problem and allows Courts to give due consideration to these motions for a period of 60 days. HB 1920 gives 12 months from sentencing regardless of who has custody of the individual and also allows a good cause shown/interest of justice exception to that 12 month period. Both of these bills are a marked procedural improvement in how motions to reconsider will be handled going forward and are worthy of your approval. I once again express VACDL's support for these bills and respectfully request your vote in their favor.

Last Name: Gebriel Organization: FAMM Locality: Montgomery County

Thank you to Mr. Chair Mullin and the members of the committee for considering this statement in support of HB 1920. FAMM supports HB 1920 because it would provide a mechanism to remedy excessive sentences that do not promote public safety and do not reflect a person’s rehabilitation. FAMM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates sentencing and prison policies that are individualized and fair, protect public safety, and preserve families. One of the policies we advocate is second look sentencing to help remedy excessive incarceration and give deserving people a shot at a second chance. We are pleased to support HB 1920, which would provide judges with the power to modify a person’s sentence for good cause and when it’s in the best interest of justice. People serving extreme sentences in Virginia state prisons have little chance of relief even if they’ve demonstrated their rehabilitation and readiness to contribute positively to their communities. Few people in state prisons are eligible for parole. Virginia needs a mechanism to take a second look at lengthy sentences and reduce them when appropriate. Revisiting lengthy sentences aligns with a growing body of research showing that recidivism drops after a person reaches late adolescence and continues to decline when an individual reaches early adulthood. No one is safer when people whose continued incarceration serves no purpose remain in prison. HB 1920 would provide Virginia the mechanism to recognize individuals who are serving ineffective and excessive sentences and safely remedy them. Revisiting lengthy sentences also allows Virginia to root out racial disparities in the justice system. Black people and people of color are disproportionately serving extreme sentences. To combat these disparities, we must create more mechanisms for justice system actors to reconsider and curb extreme sentences. HB 1920 is a reasonable solution to addressing ineffective and excessive sentences. The bill does not require or guarantee a sentence reduction or modification. It merely gives individuals the opportunity to have their sentence reconsidered and circumstances such as their rehabilitation and readiness for reentry taken into consideration. It’s vital that our laws recognize people’s capacity to mature and that courts are provided with the power to take a second look at sentences and evaluate the appropriateness of continued incarceration. We know from individuals who have been released under the landmark Unger ruling in Maryland and the more than 50 individuals recently released under the District of Columbia’s second look provision for juveniles that people can return home early from prison and live peacefully in their communities. For the reasons outlined above, FAMM urges the committee to support and advance HB 1920.

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

I am in support of the previously indicated bills. Virginia has long promoted mass incarceration through its policies regarding those accused/convicted of crimes. Please consider these in the interest of moving Virginia forward. Thank you.

Last Name: Wells Locality: Wytheville

Jesse Dunaway, #1190847, was sentenced to a Mandatory Minimum Life Sentence for a non violent drug charge in 2005. He has been incarcerated for over 16 years. Mr Dunaway is the ONLY person in Virginia to be sentenced to Mandatory Life for a non violent drug charge. Mr Dunaway's charges today would result in a 5 to 7 year sentence. He was sentenced to die in prison. He has lost everything, including his family, his children, his home. He also lost the respect of his family and community. At the time of his sentencing, there were no guidelines, there were no other cases to compare this to. He was the very first person to be sentenced to Life for a non violent drug charge. He has more than served his time. He deserves to have the chance to be a father to his children and a productive member of society. No one deserves a Life Sentence for a drug offense when others with similar charges are sentenced to far less terms.

HB1936 - Robbery; penalties.
Last Name: Eugene Oliver Organization: Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Locality: Harrisonburg

My name is Eugene Oliver and I am President of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I was unable to sign up to speak for the evening session today, but wanted to express our support for the following bills and a brief reasoning as to why: HB 1936 - The Robbery statute as it is now is overly broad and could lead to life sentences for any amount of force combined with a larceny. By establishing degrees of robbery, this bill will lead to more equitable results and that the punishment received more accurately reflects the severity of the offense. HB 2038 - We believe it is important that individuals are not needlessly locked up on technical violations. We wholeheartedly support this bill as a fairer and more equitable way of handling probation violations and issues surrounding the suspension of sentences. HB 2047 - The current law is extremely restrictive as to when information about mental health can be introduced. By allowing mental health evidence when it goes to guilt or innocence or when it would otherwise be relevant as to a defendant's mental state. HB 2290 - In eliminating subsequent enhanced penalties on misdemeanor larcenies, this bill fixes an often seen unjust result where an individual picks up a jail sentence or a felony conviction for a de minimis theft or other larceny. By repealing 18.2-104 and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences or the possibility of a felony conviction, we would be allowing discretion to return in how courts treat these charges and avoiding excessive punishments for thefts that are deemed as non-felonious in their value. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our position on these bills and we ask that you support these bills and report them out of committee.

Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

We need a way to stop this online predators in our community.

Last Name: Lambert Organization: Roanoke Community Bail Fund Locality: Salem

I strongly urge you to vote No on HB2152! The only people this bill benefits is the parasitic bail bonds industry which profits off of poor and largely Black & Brown Virginians being locked up pretrial. This bill is grossly shameful and will only harm those who are already the most systemically harmed & exploited.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB1951 - Suicide; abolishes the common-law crime.
Last Name: webster Locality: Arlington

Thank you Delegate Herring and members of the Committee and a special thank you to Delegate Marcus Simon for being the patron of HB 1951, as well as, our appreciation to the other delegates and senator who are co patrons. Suicide is a mental health crisis. And should be treated as any other mental health issue. The common law crime of suicide originated in England in the 1300's. With the Suicide Act of 1961, England made a statement by abolishing suicide as a common law crime. England, as well as , most commonwealth countries deplored this vestige of a cruel and barbaric past, believing it had no place in modern day England. And they abolished the common law crime of suicide, SIXTY years ago this very year (2021)! With the new and more scientific causes of mental illness and other medical issues being discovered every day, certainly Virginia should be as progressive and as humane as an England of sixty years ago. Governor Northam has initiated several programs dealing with mental health The decriminalization of the common law crime of suicide should be an integral part of these reforms. Severe depression, as other health issues, should not be considered a common law crime, nor should a brutal law from the 1300's be an impediment to reducing stigma and healing. Thank you England for showing us the way---we, too, in Virginia by decriminalizing the common law crime of suicide and taking it off the books will show you that we can be just as humane and progressive as you were -----sixty years ago. Submitted by Sharon Webster (mother of Lauren Webster who died by suicide in 2012, age 25 ( " She lost hope; then we lost her" is the gravestone inscription)

Last Name: Saulman Locality: Arlington

As a Roman Catholic priest who served in parishes and officiated for funerals of those who died by suicide, I write with pastoral experience. We should decriminalize suicide. What ethical good are we doing to make someone who has died by their own hand a criminal? Does making them a criminal change their behavior? No. Does it reverse their suicidal decision? No. If we decriminalize this medieval judgement, it will help families to cope with the hurt. Our laws should alleviate the emotional pain and erase the judgmental guilt and shame felt by many who have experienced a friend or family member who died by suicide. Let's have mental health laws that focus on preventing suicide and coping skills for those who are suffering because of a suicide they can't forget. Let's stop the hurt and start the help. Now is the time...we can't wait any longer for a tomorrow that may never come for some. Blame and shame is about anger and revenge. Let's be about love and forgiveness.

Last Name: Diaz Organization: David J. Cobb Foundation Locality: Havre De Grace, Maryland

  First I would to thank you, for this opportunity to submit testimony on behalf of Virginia House Bill No.1951 to abolish the common law crime of Suicide.   My name is Linda Diaz and I am a suicide loss survivor of my youngest daughter, Lauryn Santiago. My daughter was born, raised and died a Prince Georges County, MD resident. Lauryn was beautiful, loving and one of the kindest children that a mother could ever dream of raising. Lauryn turned 15 years old on January 26, 2013 but died of suicide, after relentless bullying, on February 16, 2013.  My own loss opened my eyes to the ripple effect of suicide and how it spread like fire amongst my daughters friends which lead me on the road of Youth Mental Health Advocacy.   I am also an Army Veteran and on the road of Advocacy I have not just witnessed my fellow veterans in mental distress but also their children. As an advocate, I witness the immense turmoil of youth reaching out to parents, family or adults, for assistance. Fear, shame and embarrassment is what a person lives with, when *Risk Factors (below) force them into silence, which becomes their everyday life.   Today we are witnessing how the mind cannot be controlled in this time of the COVID19 Pandemic as many lives are lost. The increase in Anxiety as well as PTS for those living in this crisis has exploded in the area of Mental Health where more lives are being lost to suicide. The mind is powerful to those who cannot receive or is not provided the required resources to treat Mental Illness. A person not diagnosed or treated is no different than a person shot in the head that bleeds out, goes untreated, becomes more infected and ultimately is taken over with debilitating pain. It is this fight which leads a person to the choice to stop their own pain, which often leads them to assume suicide is the only way to stop their agony.   As a society, we must embrace and become more educated and aware in Mental Health. In 2018 48,344 persons died by suicide. In the loss of so much life to suicide, it is the shame, embarrassment or alienation from society that leads the families of suicide loss into silence.   As a legislation, I plead for your consideration in abolishing suicide as a crime. Many who die by suicide, do so to end their silent battle of paralyzing pain, not to commit a crime.    Please support HB 1951:  Abolish common law crime of Suicide:  Please save another family from this lifetime of pain in being looked at as a person who lost a love one to a crime.  Thank you for your consideration.   Risk Factors / Stressors / Triggers •           Family history of suicide •           Divorce •           Sexual assault/Molestation •           Family history of child maltreatment/Abuse •           Previous suicide attempt(s) •           History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression •           History of alcohol and substance abuse •           Teen dating abuse •           Death or loss of a loved one •           Change in environment / Homelessness •           Isolation or loss of friends/Being cut off from other people •           Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma) •           Incarceration •           Domestic Violence •           Classmate Suicide •           Bullying      

Last Name: Pool Locality: Ashburn

We've come so far in my lifetime in recognizing and fighting stigmas around mental health and wellness, but the fact that we are still debating whether or not suicide should be classified as a criminal act shows me we still have far to go. Over the past 20 years I've lost a handful of friends to suicide, and dozens of acquaintances. Since the start of this Pandemic, my social circle has lost one child a *MONTH* to suicide. As someone who has suffered from PTSD and depression from serving in our Nations Military, I am uncomfortably well aware of how the stigma surrounding suicide prevents far too many good men and women from getting help. Being afraid of getting slapped with a criminal charge (even if that fear is largely unfounded) just adds to the hesitation to get help; "if it's against the law, not only do I feel worthless but what if I get caught and arrested and ruin the rest of my life in case my plan falls through?" That's the thought process, at least one of the many I've heard over the years. And so it causes people who are in mental crisis to hide more. Is this what we want as a society? To have archaic laws causing so much shame and stigma that we prevent our neighbors and friends from getting the help they need? It's 2021. It's time to change the law, and in doing so, time to help push us forward in our actions and our mindsets and the ways in which we discuss suicide and mental health.

Last Name: Mittendorff Locality: Woodbridge

Good afternoon, My name is Steven Mittendorff and I am the spouse of the late Nicole K. Mittendorff who was employed by the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department. Nicole went missing on April 13, 2016 and was subsequently located on April 21, 2016 after an extensive search that garnered national attention. Nicole hung herself. Nicole was a dedicated public servant who was subjected to unnecessary sexual harassment and abuse by her co-workers and others on the website www.fairfaxunderground.com. Nicole dedicated her life to serving others both as a lifeguard in her youth and later in her dream to become a firefighter/paramedic. I am in full support of this bill. While I know there is nothing we can do to bring our loved ones back, there is something that you can do now to help the survivors; those of us who live with a variety of feelings including, but not limited to, guilt, anger and dreaming of the what ifs, what could have beens and what should have beens with our departed loved ones. As a former law enforcement official with our very own Virginia State Police, I understand there are concerns about this bill and how that would impact investigations. Let me say that I FULLY support the ability of law enforcement to investigate suicide deaths. The intent of this bill is in no way intended to prevent that. It also does not intend to legalize suicide or assisted suicide. It is merely removing the criminal offense of suicide. You have no idea unless you are a member of this awful group how much the passing of this bill would mean to me and thousands of other Virginians. The suicide of my wife's death changed the trajectory of my life both personally and professionally. While I know my wife can never be criminally charged it still haunts me knowing that technically she completed a criminal offense and in the Commonwealth she so very much loved. I ask each of you regardless of what side of the political aisle you sit on to think about how suicide has impacted you, your families and your friends. Please find it in your heart and to pass this bill. Help the many survivors who are struggling by removing the criminal offense. This will help each of us greatly as we continue to mourn.

Last Name: Saulman Locality: Arlington

We should decriminalize suicide. What ethical good are we doing to make someone who has died by their own hand if we convict them as a criminal? Does making them a criminal change their behavior? No. Does it reverse their suicidal decision? No. If we decriminalize this medieval judgement, it will be of great relief for many hurting families. Our laws should alleviate the emotional pain and erase the judgmental guilt and shame felt by many who have experienced a friend or family member who died by suicide. Let's have mental health laws that focus on preventing suicide and coping skills for those who are suffering because of a suicide they can't forget. Let's stop the hurt and start the help. Now is the time...we can't wait any longer for a tomorrow that may never come for some.

Last Name: Fleming Locality: Manassas, VA

I signed up last night to speak today; however, I wasn't approved so I am sending you what I would have said. __________________________________________________________ Good morning Mr. Chairman and Committee Members: I am here to speak on behalf of HB1951 which will abolish suicide as a common-law crime. Suicide is currently a common-law crime in Virginia even though there is no statutorily prescribed punishment. As a suicide loss survivor and suicide prevention advocate, and on behalf of thousands of suicide loss survivors, I URGE you to support this critical, life-saving bill and that you vote Yes to HB1951. Suicide being considered a crime adds to the stigma and prevents those who suffer a mental illness from getting the help they need. When people get help, it saves lives. There have been times when people said to me “your son committed a crime” and I have no words for how absolutely devastating that is for a grieving parent to hear. My son DID NOT commit a crime, my son was in severe pain and did what he thought he had to, to end his pain. I hope that you take these words of a grieving mother who lost her 17 year old son to suicide and vote YES to HB1951. Thank you! Sincerely, Kimberly Fleming David's mom (7/2/98 - 10/23/15)

Last Name: Hakes Locality: Albemarle County

I write in support of HB1951. A person's life should belong ultimately to them, and not to the State. As a practical matter, a person who commits suicide is beyond the reach of the law , and a person who attempts suicide and fails is in need of assistance, not prosecution.

Last Name: webster Organization: ? Locality: Arlington

Please support HB1951 for the following reasons: 1. The common law crime of suicide is antiquated and a vestige of a cruel, bygone era. 2. Decriminalization of the common law crime of suicide has absolutely nothing to do with assisted suicide. 3. Governor Northam has put forth two major and progressive initiatives: 1. Criminal justice reform and 2. Prevention of suicide in the military. HB 1951 should be an integral part of these reforms. To do otherwise would be dismissive of one of the most important aspects of suicide prevention---erasing the stigma of suicide. 4. It is hypocritical to speak of suicide prevention and then to leave the common law crime of suicide on the books. 5. Suicide is a major health issue that should be treated as such: based on statistics suicide is a major health crisis. 6. Mental illness is thought to be related to over 90% of suicide deaths. 7. Does not the legacy of those who died by suicide matter? The deceased's whole life, all those facets of them considered wonderful and good such as sensitivity, kindness, creativity, generosity, achievement---are negated by making them a common law criminal in the eyes of the law. 8. The stigma. The stigma of suicide affects the living as well as the dead. Those who have lost a loved one to suicide often report feeling lonely. isolated and judged by others. HB1951 is a step to help erase the stigma. Erasure of stigma is one of the most important aspects of suicide prevention. 9. Bipartisanship: There is no one in the legislature who has not been affected by a spouse's, child's, relative's , friend's or neighbor's suicide or mental illness. There is no reason that this bill, HB1951 does not get 100% support. Here one is not a Republican or a Democrat, one is a compassionate human being doing the right thing at the right time to help reduce the stigma of suicide---and to help the healing of your family, your friends, your community. And you. Please vote for passage of HB1951. Thank you, Sharon Webster

Last Name: Mahaney Locality: Midlothian

My son might still be alive if there had been no penalty for timely reporting of an overdose. The girl he was living with was fearful she would be in jeopardy if she did not first 'clean up' before calling 911. This delay cost him his life. Death Penalty - our judicial system is so flawed that there is no way to know with absolute certainty if a person is guilty. Aside from that, we are not empowered to take another's life as a 'just' punishment. Sentence modification needs to remain in the hand of the judge PERIOD. They have the most detailed information about pending cases and are less encumbered with 'red tape'. Suicide is not a 'crime' it's a mental health issue. Record expungement - give people a better chance to be reintegrated into society.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Diaz Organization: The David J. Cobb Foundation Locality: Havre De Grace, Maryland

First I would to thank you, for this opportunity to submit testimony on behalf of Virginia House Bill No.1951 to abolish common law crime of Suicide. My name is Linda Diaz and I am a suicide loss survivor of my youngest daughter, Lauryn Santiago. My daughter was born, raised and died a Prince Georges County, MD resident. Lauryn was beautiful, loving and one of the kindest children that a mother could ever dream of raising. Lauryn turned 15 years old on January 26, 2013 but died of suicide, after relentless bullying, on February 16, 2013. My own loss opened my eyes to the ripple effect of suicide and how it spread like fire amongst my daughters friends which lead me on the road of Youth Mental Health Advocacy. I am also an Army Veteran and on the road of Advocacy I have not just witnessed my fellow veterans in mental distress but also their children. As an advocate, I witness the immense turmoil of youth reaching out to parents, family or adults, for assistance. Fear, shame and embarrassment is what a person lives with, when *Risk Factors (below) force them into silence, which becomes their everyday life. Today we are witnessing how the mind cannot be controlled in this time of the COVID19 Pandemic as many lives are lost. The increase in Anxiety as well as PTS for those living in this crisis has exploded in the area of Mental Health where more lives are being lost to suicide. The mind is powerful to those who cannot receive or is not provided the required resources to treat Mental Illness. A person not diagnosed or treated is no different than a person shot in the head that bleeds out, goes untreated, becomes more infected and ultimately is taken over with debilitating pain. It is this fight which leads a person to the choice to stop their own pain, which often leads them to assume suicide is the only way to stop their agony. As a society, we must embrace and become more educated and aware in Mental Health. In 2018 48,344 persons died by suicide. In the loss of so much life to suicide, it is the shame, embarrassment or alienation from society that leads the families of suicide loss into silence. As a legislation, I plead for your consideration in abolishing suicide as a crime. Many who die by suicide, do so to end their silent battle of paralyzing pain, not to commit a crime. Please support HB 1951: Abolish common law crime of Suicide: Please save another family from this lifetime of pain in being looked at as a person who lost a love one to a crime. Thank you for your consideration. Risk Factors / Stressors / Triggers • Family history of suicide • Divorce • Sexual assault/Molestation • Family history of child maltreatment/Abuse • Previous suicide attempt(s) • History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression • History of alcohol and substance abuse • Teen dating abuse • Death or loss of a loved one • Change in environment / Homelessness • Isolation or loss of friends/Being cut off from other people • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma) • Incarceration • Domestic Violence • Classmate Suicide • Bullying

Last Name: Stevenson Locality: Oxford England UK

Living in England I am utterly shocked that suicide is still a criminal offence in Virginia sixty years from when it was decriminalised here in 1961. The legislation in England followed a shift in attitudes, no longer regarding suicide as wrongdoing , but recognising that the majority of individuals attempting, or dying from suicide were in great mental distress. A fifteen year study by Oxford University published in 2011 ( British Medical Bulletin Vol 100 pp101 - 121 0 ) clearly identified the link between suicide , mental illness and untreated depression. It seems inequitable that the citizens of one state, compared to compatriots in other states in the US and across the free world are still treated without compassion or humanity and a total lack of consideration for their personal and mental health.

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

Our precious son, Craig, took his life at age 15 after years of struggling with mental illness. It is devastating to lose a child to death whatever the cause. That said, the despair and devastation for our family is compounded by the stigma of suicide being considered a crime. Craig didn't "commit" a "crime." He succumbed to his relentless depression. Virginia is behind other states - and other countries in abolishing suicide as a common law crime. This bill has come before the General Assembly multiple times. It is very difficult to keep reliving painful memories each time it comes before the General Assembly. Please make this year the year it passes. Thank you. Beth Tolley

Last Name: Chitwood Organization: Kimberly Fleming Locality: Prince William County

I am writing on behalf of my friend, Kim Fleming. She sadly lost her son David to suicide several years ago. To be informed that in the Commonwealth of Virginia it is a crime (with no punishment, nor prosecution) that her her sweet child died of suicide is horrendous and archaic. Suicide is a public health crisis that needs attention, not criminal punishment. Currently, as the pandemic rages on, issues of depression, suicide and other mental health issues is a top priority and we should continue to support those individuals who are brave enough to seek treatment and especially those who treatment did not work, resulting in suicide. To further declare suicide is a crime is cruel to the grieving family and in the name of the lost one. In Virginia, we are striving to remove the stigma associated with mental health treatment. To add insult to injury and further declare it's crime, is both backwards and a destructive opinion shared by individuals who truly don't know how it feels to lose a loved one to suicide. In a time where Virginia is considering decriminalizing of marijuana, surely, removing the nasty stigma associated with suicide as a crime should hold even more weight and consideration. Thank you for your time and consideration. Very Respectfully, Christine Chitwood.

HB1991 - Juveniles; release and review hearing for serious offender, plea agreement.
Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

We need a way to stop this online predators in our community.

Last Name: Lambert Organization: Roanoke Community Bail Fund Locality: Salem

I strongly urge you to vote No on HB2152! The only people this bill benefits is the parasitic bail bonds industry which profits off of poor and largely Black & Brown Virginians being locked up pretrial. This bill is grossly shameful and will only harm those who are already the most systemically harmed & exploited.

Last Name: McConnell Organization: VA Bar Association Commission on the Needs of Children Locality: City of RIchmond

This is an essential step towards assuring that young people who have deeply engaged in treatment and rehabilitation in the Dept of Juv Justice have an opportunity for successful re-entry into the community without having to go to DOC. The Serious Offender law, enacted in 1994 and amended in 1996, allows courts to consider the ways in which youth are far more likely to be rehabilitated than adult-offenders and to prevent counter-productively endangering society further by holding young people beyond the point at which they have been rehabilitated. The 1996 amendment broadened the purpose of the bill to include “the safety of the community and the protection of victims’ rights in addition to the welfare of the child and the family.” Prosecutors often argue that the serious offender review should not be held or should not result in early release because there was a plea agreement at the original sentencing. These plea agreements are decided at the time of sentencing before any rehabilitation has occurred and should not interfere with the purposes of the statute which is to promote public safety by encouraging kids to work toward prosocial behavior and rehabilitation while incarcerated at Bon Air.. Additionally, any plea agreement that includes a serious offender commitment implicitly includes a review where the sentence could be reduced. Denying these young people that opportunity is disingenuous and counter-productive. This statute is one of the best mechanisms in the Code to actually provide an incentive for pros-social development and rejection of criminogenic thinking patterns. . Allowing kids to step down into DJJ re-entry programming, such as independent living, before going home is also good policy. If at the review the judge is allowed to suspend the adult DOC time, they are then eligible for this programming. If we deny this opportunity to reduce the time because of a plea agreement, then the kids just go to DOC and are released like everyone else at the end of their sentence with no real opportunity for supportive step-down services. The Serious offender process, unencumbered by a limit on the judge's authority because of a plea agreement, holds kids accountable, keeps the public safe, and also employees trauma-informed, evidence-based methods to help ensure successful re-entry into the community as a productive citizen. Thank you.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB2012 - Protective orders; violations of preliminary child protective order, changes punishment, etc.
Last Name: L'Herrou Organization: Virginia Poverty Law Center Locality: RICHMOND

I'm ok with Del Bell's amendment

Last Name: L'Herrou Organization: Virginia Poverty Law Center Locality: RICHMOND

With the proposed amendment deleting the words "endangers the child's life, health, or normal development or" we would not oppose this bill.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB2018 - Emergency order for adult protective services; acts of violence, force, or financial exploitation.
Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

We need a way to stop this online predators in our community.

Last Name: Lambert Organization: Roanoke Community Bail Fund Locality: Salem

I strongly urge you to vote No on HB2152! The only people this bill benefits is the parasitic bail bonds industry which profits off of poor and largely Black & Brown Virginians being locked up pretrial. This bill is grossly shameful and will only harm those who are already the most systemically harmed & exploited.

Last Name: Varky Organization: Virginia Poverty Law Center Locality: Richmond

VPLC supports Delegate Mullin's HB 2018, including the two substitutes to reference 19.2-152.7:1's definition of "acts of violence, force, or threat..." and 63.2-1696's definition of "financial exploitation." I would be happy to work with the Chair and subcommittee members on any other language to support this bill.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

HB2047 - Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition and intellectual, etc.
Last Name: Fetter Locality: James City County

I write in strong support of this bill. Too many people with intellectual or developmental disabilities get caught up in the criminal justice system because, beyond an insanity plea, there is no way for the defense to submit evidence that would call the defendant's mens rea into question during the guilt phase of a trial in Virgnia. This does not give the jury a full picture of the defendant, and in many cases, it leads to the defendant being wrongfully convicted. This is a commonsense reform. We are behind the times in the Commonwealth relative to other states; that needs to change.

Last Name: Harrison Organization: LRIDD - Legal Reform for the Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled Locality: Midlothian

I speak in support of HB2047 both as the parent of an autistic young man who was caught up in the criminal justice system, and as Director of Communications for LRIDD - Legal Reform for the Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled. The court must be informed whether or not an individual has sufficient understanding of the charged offense. Expert testimony is a necessity if the goal is a fair outcome and true justice. Bail is crucial for ID/DD defendants. This vulnerable population is very limited in their ability to comprehend plea deals. Also, their mental state while incarcerated is much more likely to suffer greatly due to sensory overwhelm and anxiety that is common with developmental disabilities such as autism. Bail allows for necessary preparation and the assurance of due process.

Last Name: Kanoyton Organization: Virginia State Conference NAACP Locality: Hampton

The Virginia State Conference support HB 2047

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

The disproportionate percent of individuals with mental illness, individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or individuals with developmental disabilities, including autistic individuals in prisons and jails is not because they commit more crimes than other individuals. By not allowing information about their disabilities from the time they are accused of a crime, their rights are ignored either intentionally (if the disability is evident) or unintentionally for those whose disabilities are not as evident. Yes to this bill will provide a more just system where individuals are not wrongly convicted when they didn't have the mental state required for the charged offense and didn't understand their rights or the procedures and/or were easily manipulated into a plea agreement out of fear of something worse. Please pass this bill.

Last Name: Lloyd Organization: Richmond Raceway Locality: Henrico

On behalf of the Richmond Raceway, we want to express opposition to HB 2047 as introduced. While recognizing the issues behind the origin of the bill, as an large event venue, assigning direct liability for the actions taken by contractors, particularly on-duty or off-duty police officers providing security at our facility, will force us to rely on private contractors or other methods for event security. In conversations with our corporate risk management team, this direct liability would make the use of officers uninsurable. We look forward to working with Delegate Bourne and other stakeholders towards a more appropriate solution that allows for the continued use of police officers without the liability provisions created through this bill.

Last Name: Eugene Oliver Organization: Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Locality: Harrisonburg

My name is Eugene Oliver and I am President of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I was unable to sign up to speak for the evening session today, but wanted to express our support for the following bills and a brief reasoning as to why: HB 1936 - The Robbery statute as it is now is overly broad and could lead to life sentences for any amount of force combined with a larceny. By establishing degrees of robbery, this bill will lead to more equitable results and that the punishment received more accurately reflects the severity of the offense. HB 2038 - We believe it is important that individuals are not needlessly locked up on technical violations. We wholeheartedly support this bill as a fairer and more equitable way of handling probation violations and issues surrounding the suspension of sentences. HB 2047 - The current law is extremely restrictive as to when information about mental health can be introduced. By allowing mental health evidence when it goes to guilt or innocence or when it would otherwise be relevant as to a defendant's mental state. HB 2290 - In eliminating subsequent enhanced penalties on misdemeanor larcenies, this bill fixes an often seen unjust result where an individual picks up a jail sentence or a felony conviction for a de minimis theft or other larceny. By repealing 18.2-104 and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences or the possibility of a felony conviction, we would be allowing discretion to return in how courts treat these charges and avoiding excessive punishments for thefts that are deemed as non-felonious in their value. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our position on these bills and we ask that you support these bills and report them out of committee.

Last Name: Thayer Locality: Arlington

Virginia has the power and momentum to fix disparities in the criminal justice system and provide better support to communities. These bills will go a long way in addressing those and I encourage all to support them. HB 2038: Probation was originally intended to help people successfully transition from incarceration to the community, but has often served as a no-win situation that ensures their failure and return to prison. 51% of VA prison admissions were a result of parole or probation violations in 2016. 51%! Probation should be about helping people, not an excuse to further punish people trying to right their lives. Let’s get supervision conditions tailored to the individual and incentivize positive behavior and completion of recidivism-reducing programs. HB 2047: Leaning on the Stamper v. Commonwealth reasoning completely disrespects mentally ill Virginians and ignores everything we have learned in the 35 years since. Further, it violates an accused’s Constitutional right to a full-throated defense. Let’s enable juries to consider all the facts, including where mental health is relevant by supporting HB 2047. HB 2286: In Virginia, our pretrial system leads to people, especially poor people, being held unnecessarily for days before they can be released simply because they are not appointed a lawyer in a timely manner. By allowing/ensuring that individuals have an attorney when they first appear in front of a judge, bail can be considered immediately, in turn reducing additional and unnecessary time that a person - who has not been convicted - is being held in jail. That way people who aren’t a flight risk or a risk to themselves or others can return to their homes, reducing the overall negative impact on their lives. Pretrial detention costs the Commonwealth more money, and leads to 4x greater likelihood of being sentenced to jail, 3x longer jail sentences as well as 3x greater likelihood of being sentenced to prison, 2x longer prison sentences, and overall worse life outcomes. (NLADA, USAPP) Thank you very much for your consideration of these bills.

Last Name: Champion Organization: Virginia Autism Project Locality: FAIRFAx

Please support HB 2047. We will be seeing more and more individuals with a diagnosis of Autism as they age into adulthood. Please allow this information to be presented to the Courts and the Judges and the Commonwealth attorney to consider. The cute 6 years olds we see today in our 1/38 population of an autism diagnosis will be adults in Virginia without social service supports and necessary medical and mental health supports. Please don't keep punishing them for their mental health and medical condition they can't control. Thank you, Teresa L. Champion, Virginia Autism Project.

Last Name: Harrison Organization: LRIDD Legal Reform for the Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled Locality: Chesterfield County

Intellectual and developmental disabilities exist within all races and socioeconomic levels. The deficits in communication and social awareness significantly impairs the mental state required to grasp criminal proceedings. Certainly, bail is necessary to educate and prepare the defendant for court. Not to mention the impact that being held in jail has on those with the sensory issues that typically accompany a developmental disability such as autism. I am in support of this bill as both a parent of an autistic son who did not have benefit of a bill such as HB2047, and also as Director of Communications for LRIDD. My son's experiences incarcerated have left him a diagnosis of PTSD that he now struggles with daily.

Last Name: Beadnell Organization: The Arc of Northern Virginia Locality: Arlington

The Arc of Northern Virginia strongly supports this bill. We frequently get contacts from families torn apart when a loved one with a developmental disability is charged with a crime, often stemming directly from challenges the person has related to their disability. This bill would allow that role that disability played in any illegal actions to be considered, which would be both the ethical thing to do and keep with the spirit of a justice system intent on actual fairness and justice.

Last Name: Kelmar Organization: Legal Reform for Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled (LRIDD) Locality: Richmond

My name is Brian Kelmar. I am the Chairman of national nonprofit profit called (LRIDD) Legal Reform for people with Intellectual and Developmentally disabled based here in VA. We represent families here in Virginia and throughout the country who have similar stories like my autistic son whose life has been destroyed in the criminal justice system. People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are up to 7 times more likely to be caught up in criminal justice, yet no evidence suggest they commit crime at a higher rate than the general population. Virginia has worked hard to eliminate mental institutions, but instead of providing supports for mental illness and developmental disabilities we have filled the void with prisons. Unfortunately, we are of the leading states in the nation for a school to prison pipeline for the developmentally disabled and even worse for persons of color with a disability. We allow mental illness and drug abuse to be considered in the criminal justice system, but we do not consider developmental disabilities. Developmentally disabled should be allowed equality under the law as set by the American Disabilities Act. The courts should be allowed the opportunity to hear all the information for each person’s particular case throughout the criminal justice process. One size does not fit all. We support this bill.

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

Please support HB2047 to make the criminal justice system more just. Not allowing an individuals "invisible" disabilities to be considered throughout the process has allowed grave injustices to occur. Autistic individuals, individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals experiencing mental health issues are over-represented in jails and prisons. Prison has been referred to as the largest mental health facility - not because people receive appropriate treatment, but because mentally ill people, unable to defend themselves due to their mental illness are ripe for exploitation by overzealous Law Enforcement Officers and Prosecutors. While the U.S. Census reports that one in 5 Americans (20 percent) have a disability, the Bureau of Justice found that 32 percent of federal prisoners and 40 percent of jail inmates report at least one disability. https://ldaamerica.org/lda_today/disability-and-criminal-justice-reform/ This report also indicated that people with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime than people without disabilities. A third to a half of all use-of-force incidents with police involve a disabled civilian. Individuals with disabilities are being criminalized rather than supported. This bill will help change this. This doesn't mean disabled individuals will be given a free pass, it just means that consideration of the impact of their disability on their actions, their capacity to give consent for questioning, their ability to understand the ramifications of plea agreements, and their intent will be considered.

Last Name: McConnell Organization: Law Professor, University of RIchmond School of Law Locality: Richmond

HB 2047 would go a long way towards promoting equity and fairness in proceedings involving a defendant with intellectual or mental disabilities. As it stands now, the only time this gets consideration is either at sentencing or in negotiations with prosecutors when the defense attorney is diligently investigating the case and obtains documentation of intellectual disability or mental illness that they take to the prosecutor to advocate for leniency. If the defense attorney doesn't do their due diligence, which they sometimes do not given the incredibly low rate of compensation for court-appointed cases, or if the prosecutor is not interested in the mitigation, then it has no impact on the outcome. This bill would help reduce the arbitrariness inherent in a system that does not include diminished capacity as a defense, as many other states do. Thank you.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

If we intend for the criminal justice system to be "just" and fair, there must be consideration of an individual's mental health/ mental illness and the presence of diagnoses or conditions that impact brain function - including intellectual and developmental disabilities (including autism). This must be considered at every step of the process from the first time the police communicate with the individual. The system becomes an "injustice system" when individuals with impaired cognitive, reasoning, executive functioning, emotional regulation abilities are assumed to be fully competent to give informed consent, to understand the proceedings, to understand and respond to questions, including those that are meant to manipulate and/or coerce. There are way too many instances of ruined lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens from overzealous prosecution of offenses the individuals either didn't commit, didn't intentionally commit, or didn't realize were against the law. The statistics of the percentage of incarcerated individuals who are mentally ill and/or autistic and/or are intellectually disabled are shocking and shameful. Please pass this bill. Thank you. Beth Tolley

HB2056 - Status offenders; willful and material violation of court order or terms of probation.
Last Name: Kanoyton Organization: VSC NAACP Locality: Hampton

VSC NAACP are in support of HB 2056

Last Name: Kanoyton Organization: VSC NAACP Locality: Hampton

VSC NAACP are in support of HB 2056

Last Name: Hopkins Organization: Rights4Girls Locality: DC

Dear Chair Herring and honorable members of the committee, my name is Cherice Hopkins, and I’m Senior Counsel at Rights4Girls, a human rights organization dedicated to defending the rights of vulnerable girls through advocacy, coalition-building, public awareness campaigns, research, and training and technical assistance. We have worked to shed light on the widespread criminalization of survivors of gendered violence, particularly girls of color, through the publication of reports like The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story. Today we submit testimony to urge you to pass HB 2056, which takes a critical step in bringing Virginia’s laws in line with the latest research and providing a trauma-informed response to children touched by Virginia’s juvenile justice system by eliminating the Valid Court Order (VCO) exception. As advocates who work at the intersection of race, gender, violence and justice-involvement, we strongly urge Virginia to follow the lead of the majority of states and deinstitutionalize status offenders by eliminating the VCO loophole. Research is clear that detaining children for these non-serious behaviors is harmful and leads to future justice-involvement. Also, it is not a cost-effective measure to deal with issues like skipping school. Research shows that sexual abuse is a primary predictor of girls’ justice system involvement. Nationally, 73% of girls behind bars experienced sexual or physical abuse before entering the system, but in some states, the rates are even higher. When examining these high rates of trauma together with the most common offenses for girls, it is clear that girls are being criminalized because of their abuse. The most common offenses for girls include the status offenses of running away and truancy—behaviors that are strongly correlated with trauma. The limited data available on girls in Virginia’s juvenile justice system suggests that Virginia girls are being impacted by the abuse to prison pipeline. For example, girls in Virginia are overrepresented among status offenders (e.g., in 2017 girls comprised 61.5% of runaway complaints compared to boys who comprised 38.5%). In addition, racial disparities cannot be ignored as Black girls were significantly overrepresented among girls in the system. Research shows that when vulnerable and marginalized girls experience abuse and trauma, they often lack access to support services and vital interventions needed for their safety and wellbeing, consequently forcing them to take their protection into their own hands. This often results in avoidant or escapist behavior commonly associated with status offenses, particularly the offenses of truancy and running away. The appropriate response is to seek to address the underlying cause of such behavior—not criminalize and confine young girls for seeking to escape abuse and trauma. We urge the committee to help bring Virginia up to date with the latest research and findings on at-risk youth and system involvement. Eliminating this exception is in keeping with Virginia’s recent work with the National Governor’s Association to expand trauma-informed responses throughout the Commonwealth. Virginia cannot be trauma-informed if it continues practices proven to harm young people—a practice already eliminated in 32 states. Therefore, passing HB 2056 is vitally important to advancing Virginia’s efforts to protect survivors of violence and vulnerable children. Thank you.

Last Name: Dorritie Organization: William & Mary Law School Criminal Law Society Locality: Williamsburg, Virginia

Dear Delegates, I am writing in support of HB 2056 as a representative of William & Mary Law School's Criminal Law Society. Our organization strongly supports ending the use of the valid court order (VCO) exception because no child should face imprisonment for status offenses such as skipping school, running away from home, or violating curfew. As evidenced by the Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act of 2015, there exists national bipartisan support for ending the use of the VCO exception, and the time has come to implement this change in the Commonwealth of Virginia. HB 2056 would improve outcomes for Virginia’s youth. According to the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), imprisoning children—including those in violation of status offenses—increases their chances of reentering the criminal justice system later in life; probability of reentry rises with a child’s frequency of incarceration. Additionally, per Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, the Commonwealth’s three-year reconviction rate for children committed and released from juvenile prison is approximately seventy-four percent, and a child’s probability of arrest for a future crime increases by nearly thirty-three percent for every year spent in a youth prison in Virginia. Simply put, incarceration has the opposite effect of encouraging recidivism. Incarceration is also costly. According to JPI, Virginia spends more than $400 per day to confine children, for a total of approximately $150,000 per child annually. More importantly, incarceration neither teaches children how to become law-abiding citizens, nor provides them with adequate services to properly address the underlying causes of the initial offenses. Instead, children need community- and family-based services, as these services have proven more effective in preventing children from re-engaging with the criminal justice system than incarceration and reduce the state’s overall costs. For example, Multisystemic Therapy, an intensive community- and family-based intervention program, reduces recidivism rates in children up to seventy percent and provides the state with a rate of return on investment of sixty-two percent. We reiterate our avid support for HB 2056 and humbly urge you to consider ending the VCO exception in our great Commonwealth. We appreciate your consideration on this matter. Sincerely, Matt Dorritie (on behalf of William & Mary Law School's Criminal Law Society)

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

Please pass HB2056 to end the use of the valid court order exception in Virginia. 32 states have already eliminated the practice of locking up children for noncriminal behavior. It is shocking that this is how Virginia responds to youth in need, to these marginalized, vulnerable citizens. Research shows that the longer a child is incarcerated, the greater the likelihood the child will be further involved in the justice system, the less likely that child is to graduate from high school and the likelihood the child will get a good job is also diminished significantly. There has been a great deal of effort made in Virginia to comply with the JJDP Act, that specifically requires states that receive federal juvenile justice dollars to stop locking up status offenders. But the only way to truly comply with the Act is to end the use of the valid court order exception all together. Hundreds of Virginia youths per year (2017-2019) have been locked up using the VCO; children/youth who needed services, support, supervision - not incarceration. We must increase access to services and stop locking up our children when their behaviors demonstrate to us that they are in great need. Thank you.

Last Name: Silcox Organization: RISE for Youth Locality: Richmond

RISE for Youth supports this bill and urges members of the Courts of Justice Committee to act favorably on HB 2056. We must prevent youth from being incarcerated for minor status offenses (like running away from home or skipping school). Incarceration is not an effective treatment and only further traumatizes our youth.

Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

We need a way to stop this online predators in our community.

Last Name: Lambert Organization: Roanoke Community Bail Fund Locality: Salem

I strongly urge you to vote No on HB2152! The only people this bill benefits is the parasitic bail bonds industry which profits off of poor and largely Black & Brown Virginians being locked up pretrial. This bill is grossly shameful and will only harm those who are already the most systemically harmed & exploited.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Virginia Beach

There are so many men incarcerated right now who have turned they life’s around while being in there. Their families need them. They have done their time, stayed out of trouble and are ready to come out good citizens. My fiancé has already spent 10 years in there, he has done all of his jail time, he is now doing his probation violation time. He has taken classes and helped with the younger prisoner to help them with their train of thought. He has family dying left and right. He hasn’t seen his kids or is mother in years. His kids need him, his mother needs him, I need him home. He’s been very productive while inside their. He has wrote three books and one is already published. Some men can make a change for the better. Give these men a chance to come out and be a help to their families, the communities and themselves.

Last Name: Walters Organization: Legal Aid Justice Center Locality: Charlottesville

The Legal Aid Justice Center supports HB2056.

Last Name: Stephens Organization: Incarcerated Lives Matter VA Locality: Stafford

I support all the bills selected

Last Name: McConnell Organization: Law Professor, University of Richmond School of Law Locality: City of Richmond

I very much support this legislation. It is line with the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Locking kids up on status offenses is a terrible idea, but something we do a lot in certain jurisdictions. Kids who are running away or missing school need a very different kind of intervention than detention. It is a short-sighted response, which is not evidence-based, just hardens kids, and keeps us from addressing the root causes of their behavior. All it does is temporarily interrupt the cycle, but it rarely does anything to improve the situation. The juvenile justice system is not very creative in this regard. If a kid is not attending school regularly, putting them in detention only further separates them from school. It is hard for young people to re-integrate into a regular school after being in detention for ten days. Additionally, kids who run away are usually doing so for very good reasons. We need to provide intensive family therapy in these situations to address the conflict or safety threat in the home so that the home is a supportive environment that the child does not need to escape.

Last Name: Kelly Organization: MPAC Locality: Baltimore

CURRENT VIRGINIA LAW prohibits arrest or prosecution of certain drug-related offenses only to an individual who seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for himself or another individual or who is experiencing an overdose when another individual seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for him. HB 1821 expands these protections to include prohibiting arrest and prosecution of other individuals, acting in good faith, who render medical assistance during an overdose. This bill will allow individuals who need assistance with advocating for special services for treatment versus being incarcerated and not getting the help that is needed. The system needs to understand that information and knowledge of resources about overdose awareness is vital to the community at large.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Berlin

Sir, ma’am, my loved one, who is serving virtual life for a single robbery charge no one was seriously hurt, deserves a second look, a second chance. He is a hard working individual, who has shown nothing but well behavior the last 11 years and 9 months of his incarceration. Now he is serving a 215 year sentence in Virginia. He has a strong and loving support system outside and an excellent work ethic. Members of the General Assembly, I urge you to think of families like mine and and make sure those already behind bars benefit from the changes you will hopefully vote for. Many of them earned a fair chance of a life outside those walls. We ask you to end mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing practices. We ask you to bring back parole and allow second chances for those who have shown they deserve it. We need to invest in evidence-based criminal justice policies, because international collected data over decades are already showing why our system is still failing to help make anyone safer. We need appropriate sentences rather than out of context punishments. We need to get past these destructive practices. We need to stop hurting our own society. And we need to start give second chances, also for violent crimes. Studies show that harsh and overly long sentences do not deter or reduce crime. These laws cost us millions of dollars but don't make us safer. My family, friends and I ask you to vote for criminal justice reform and bring Virginia forward. Thank you for your time! Dilek Brennan

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

I am in support of the previously indicated bills. Virginia has long promoted mass incarceration through its policies regarding those accused/convicted of crimes. Please consider these in the interest of moving Virginia forward. Thank you.

End of Comments