Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Courts of Justice - Criminal Subcommittee
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.

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.

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.

HB2017 - Juvenile offenders; youth justice diversion programs, report.
Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

Chairman and Members of the Committee, I strongly disagree with HB2017. We, as a society, need to start asking ourselves why our children would need to go to “youth court”. Is there a problem at home ? Are they being bullied at school? Are they hungry or homeless? Do they have a disability? Did they take their medication or are they having a reaction to medication? Youth court is not the answer.

Last Name: Green Locality: Covington

Chairman and Members of the Committee, I strongly disagree with HB2017. We, as a society, need to start asking ourselves why our children would need to go to “youth court”. Is there a problem at home ? Are they being bullied at school? Are they hungry or homeless? Do they have a disability? Did they take their medication or are they having a reaction to medication? Youth court is not the answer.

Last Name: Wheeling Organization: LRIDD Locality: Haymarket, Virginia

Autism is a short circuit in the brain. There is no cure for Autism, just like there is no cure for Down’s Syndrome. There are ways to improve behavior, there are ways to teach and educate, and there are ways to protect and ensure the future for people who suffer from Intellectual and Learning Disabilities. It is not their fault that they were born this way… How a person with a disability thinks, learns, socializes, their strengths and weaknesses, are not necessarily something they can control. It is the mental version of being blind. In many ways, those who have Autism, are more likely to be endangered, abused, bullied, taken advantage of, manipulated, tricked, etc and so on, because they do not learn and comprehend this World of so-called “social norms”. We have spoken to countless people regarding cases such as these. No one we have spoken to believes that someone with Autism, should be put in the prison system, for a crime that was never committed. That would be a major injustice. That would be a horrible injustice and for someone with Autism, that they would never recover from. Never, would I ever, believe that I have to save the Vulnerable from our Justice System. We believe in protecting the Vulnerable – which includes – Children, the Elderly and the Ones with Intellectual and Learning Disabilities. Senator Stuart said, and I quote, “It is clear that individuals, most often children or young adults, who have been diagnosed with Autism, or an intellectual disability by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, call for special consideration during the judicial process.” I could not agree more with that statement… I support this bill, wholeheartedly... Cynthia J. Wheeling

Last Name: Bridgham Locality: Virginia Beach

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

Last Name: Wilson Organization: City of Newport News Locality: Franklin City

The City of Newport News strongly supports HB 2017 to allow for the creation of a youth peer diversion program. Restorative justice programs such as peer diversion have the potential to reduce a young person's future involvement with the criminal justice system by allowing first time offenders to be sanctioned by a group of their peers who have been appropriately trained to do so. For many, this is an opportunity to avoid juvenile court and and a formal juvenile record. The peer diversion program provides a more positive interaction for the offender and a learning opportunity for the young people involved.

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 Harris-Braxton Organization: VIRGINIA FIRST CITIES COALITION Locality: City of Richmond

Virginia First Cities (VFC) supports HB 2017 because it is a program that reduces youthful contacts with the criminal justice system. Avoiding incarceration leads to better outcomes for children and removes the stigma of a criminal conviction. We support this novel diversionary program for non-violent youth because it focuses on restitution, rehabilitation, accountability, education, and competency building. As VFC promotes community wealth building for citizens and self-sufficiency, this program will help to ensure that a student’s record is not a barrier in their lives. A criminal record can be devastating to opportunities in education and employment.

HB2018 - Emergency order for adult protective services; acts of violence, etc., 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.

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.

HB2150 - Jurisdiction over criminal cases; certification or appeal of charges.
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.

HB2152 - Charitable bail organizations; licensure and regulation by Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Last Name: Barnett Organization: Cville Immigrant Freedom Fund (CIFF) Locality: Charlottesville

Chair Mullin and honorable members of the House Courts of Justice, Criminal Sub-Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak. I am a volunteer with the Cville Immigrant Freedom Fund (CIFF), a non-profit organization that pays the full cost of bond for immigrants in ICE detention facilities. In 2020, CIFF bonded 34 people out of detention. I’d like to share one of our success stories. A father and his teenage daughter fled Central America after facing gang violence and discrimination for being indigenous. They came to Virginia looking for stability and a better life. They regularly attended their ICE check-ins as their asylum cases progressed. But one day the father suffered a near-fatal medical emergency, and they missed a court date while in the hospital. They were placed in ICE detention in February 2020. As Covid spread, the father’s health condition put him at grave risk. Luckily, CIFF was able to post their bonds thanks to contributions from community members. If passed, HB2152 would have a detrimental effect on the immigrant community. First, this bill would exacerbate the Covid crisis in detention facilities. ICE detention centers are hotspots for infection – over 90% of detainees at Farmville tested positive, making it the worst outbreak of its kind in the country.(1) In this time of crisis, public officials should focus on getting people out of immigration detention centers, not keeping them detained. Second, HB2152 has an unconstitutional Impact on low-income individuals. The average immigration bond is $14,000 (2) and ICE requires that all bonds be paid in full, up front. If this bill passes, low-income immigrants who are eligible for release would be forced to remain in detention while waiting for their cases to be heard. This violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and procedural due process clauses.(3) Third, HB2152’s geographic limits are a severe restriction. ICE routinely transfers immigrants hundreds or thousands of miles away from their homes to remote detention facilities, often in other states. If geographic limitations are imposed, it will be virtually impossible for charitable organizations to post bond for immigrants. Finally, HB2152 will prevent immigrants from finding legal representation. Because the immigration system is a civil system, low-income immigrants are not provided attorneys. Instead, a person’s ability to obtain a lawyer is directly linked to whether they are free or detained.(5) Only 14% of detained immigrants obtain legal representation, and only 5% of unrepresented immigrants win their cases. Because detention facilitates deportation, charitable bond organizations are an essential ally to the immigrant community. In conclusion, immigrants in Virginia would be endangered by the restrictions imposed by HB2152. Please vote against this bill. Thank you. (1) https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/sites/default/files/reports/DWN_Hotbeds%20of%20Infection_2020_FOR%20WEB.pdf (2) https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/national-bond-fund#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20upper%20limit,and%20an%20average%20of%20%2414%2C500 (3) (O’Donnell v. Harris County, TX, 251 F. Supp. 3d 1052, at 1160, 1167 (2017). (4) https://www.hrw.org/report/2009/12/02/locked-far-away/transfer-immigrants-remote-detention-centers-united-states (5) https://www.vera.org/advancing-universal-representation-toolkit/the-case-for-universal-representation-1

Last Name: Tarabay Locality: Chesterfield

I’m writing to express my support for H.B. 2152. I am a licensed bail agent in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A secured bond which exists without follow-through or regulation can be harmful to criminal defendants, their families, and the general public. Please vote yes on H.B. 2152. The arguments against are inconsistent and are an explicit attempt to upend the judicial system and hurt local small businesses. We need regulation and accountability amidst the chaos these organizations are causing in our jails and courts.

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: Zec Locality: Newport News

I am writing in to voice my extreme displeasure with HB2152, which would regulate most, if not all, Virginia bail funds out of existence. Bail funds are a vital community resource to help spare our neighbors from the inherent violence of the carceral state. Lately, they have been smeared by vindictive politicians who seek to inflict harm to arrested persons because they feel they can. However arrested people have not been convicted, and are still community members that deserve care and support during their persecution by the state. It is no surprise, but it is disappointing nonetheless, that this bill has been proposed after the 2020 summer of rebellion in which Black and Brown citizens across the country rose up to resist the oppression of the state as well as the violence of its shock troopers, the police. During these protests tens of thousands of nonviolent persons across the country were arrested for trivial, politically-motivated causes. (I personally know of people who were arrested for standing on the wrong side of the street.) The timing of this bill reveals its true purpose as a weapon against Black and Brown communities who stand up for themselves and their allies seeking to help them. It could not be more apparent now, of all times, that because this bill has been given undue consideration that the aim of it’s supporters is to quash out protest movements they find inconvenient or threatening. Voting “no” on this bill is the only reasonable course of action in order to protect communities of Black and Brown Virginians. I would also recommend an immediate censure for Delegate Adams who reveals his impotent hostility by proposing this bill. Many peoples’ lives depend on the smooth operation of Virginia bail funds and, contrary to political opinion, their lives matter too. I urge the committee, strike down this hateful piece of legislation with all the alacrity you can muster, and make genie one material steps to bringing restorative justice, healing, and reconciliation to Virginians.

Last Name: Crumrine Locality: Norfolk

Delegate Adams, L.R., I am writing to you today as a supporter of community-based bail funds in Virginia. I am reaching out to ask you to oppose House Bill No. 2152 proposed by Delegate Leslie Adams. HB 2152 would functionally regulate our local bail fund and the three other bail funds in the state of Virginia out of existence. It would prohibit bail funds from posting bails of over $2,000 and would allow them to post bails only in limited cities. This bill would also create hugely burdensome infrastructural and administrative hurdles to meeting the state licensure requirement, taking valuable time and capacity away from their small, 100% volunteer-run organization. Most importantly, hundreds of low-income, mostly Black and Brown Virginians would no longer be able to receive our assistance if this bill passes. They will have to either sit in jail for up to several months before their trial, or attempt to go through the often exploitative commercial bonds industry, which charges hundreds of dollars at minimum for the services that bail funds provide for free. We have seen on multiple occasions how just one night in jail can lead to the loss of housing, income, employment, and even children. In a moment when activists and legislators across the Commonwealth are beginning to build meaningful, enduring criminal justice reform, HB 2152 threatens a dangerous regression. Please declare your opposition to this bill. Respectfully, Rebecca Crumrine

Last Name: Dann Locality: Richmond

I am writing to you today as a supporter of community-based bail funds in Virginia. I am here to voice my opposition of House Bill No. 2152 proposed by Delegate Leslie Adams. HB 2152 would functionally regulate our local bail fund and the three other bail funds in the state of Virginia out of existence. It would prohibit bail funds from posting bails of over $2,000 and would allow them to post bails only in limited cities. This bill would also create hugely burdensome infrastructural and administrative hurdles to meeting the state licensure requirement, taking valuable time and capacity away from their small, 100% volunteer-run organization. Most importantly, hundreds of low-income, mostly Black and Brown Virginians would no longer be able to receive our assistance if this bill passes. They will have to either sit in jail for up to several months before their trial (which is especially inhumane now, in the midst of a pandemic), or attempt to go through the often exploitative commercial bonds industry, which charges hundreds of dollars at minimum for the services that bail funds provide for free. We have seen on multiple occasions how just one night in jail can lead to the loss of housing, income, employment, and even children. In a moment when activists and legislators across the Commonwealth are beginning to build meaningful, enduring criminal justice reform, HB 2152 threatens a dangerous regression. I oppose this bill and encourage my representatives to do the same.

Last Name: Craddock Locality: Richmond City

I fiercely oppose HB2152. It is no myth or fallacy that our community bail funds promote public safety by freeing indigent citizens from the irrefutable violence of jail, and allow them to fight their cases while being able to provide for and support their families and homes. We know that the jail system preys on the imprisonment of the poor, the Black, the Brown, those without formal education, those without sufficient defense, those who truly believe they have no other way out. Now is not the time, and there will never be a time, to stand on the wrong side of progressive change for our community. The regulation of our community bail funds is a step in the wrong direction. These small bands of volunteer and mutual aid workers are championing a long system of racist, classist discrimination one case at a time, remedying an egregious injustice against the Black, brown, and poor by freeing people who are being imprisoned without having being convicted of a crime. Please have some morale, some mercy, a conscience... oppose the bill.

Last Name: Allee Bradford Locality: Richmond

My name is Allee Bradford, a resident of Richmond, VA, and I strongly oppose the passage of House Bill no. 2152. I am currently employed by the Richmond Public Defender's Office, and the passage of this bill will negatively impact the community of Richmond.

Last Name: Almallen Locality: Goochland

Please oppose this bill. Community bail funds are meant to be a way for the community to informally assist those who cannot afford to post their own bail. When someone has been granted a secured bond by the court, that means that the court has deemed them suitable for release back into the Community and the only barrier to their re-entry is the fact that they and their family cannot afford to pay the amount. Bail funds step in as a mechanism for the community at large to provide the money for release. Bail funds and their informality are crucial for supporting the under-privileged class and they allow advocates and more privileged classes the opportunity to come together for the sake of releasing someone from jail whose sole reason for being incarcerated is their lack of money. Please oppose this bill and allow communities to continue utilizing their informal powers to help those in need.

Last Name: Jani Locality: Newport News

I am writing to you today as a supporter of community-based bail funds in Virginia. I am reaching out to ask you to oppose House Bill No. 2152 proposed by Delegate Leslie Adams. HB 2152 would functionally regulate our local bail fund and the three other bail funds in the state of Virginia out of existence. It would prohibit bail funds from posting bails of over $2,000 and would allow them to post bails only in limited cities. This bill would also create hugely burdensome infrastructural and administrative hurdles to meeting the state licensure requirement, taking valuable time and capacity away from their small, 100% volunteer-run organization. Most importantly, hundreds of low-income, mostly Black and Brown Virginians would no longer be able to receive our assistance if this bill passes. They will have to either sit in jail for up to several months before their trial, or attempt to go through the often exploitative commercial bonds industry, which charges hundreds of dollars at minimum for the services that bail funds provide for free. We have seen on multiple occasions how just one night in jail can lead to the loss of housing, income, employment, and even children. In a moment when activists and legislators across the Commonwealth are beginning to build meaningful, enduring criminal justice reform, HB 2152 threatens a dangerous regression. Please declare your opposition to this bill.

Last Name: Pensak Locality: Richmond, VA

As a defense attorney, I have referred several clients to the local Richmond bail fund, which became especially necessary over the summer when judges and magistrates were very likely to grant secured bonds for minor, misdemeanor offenses. Without the financial, and sometimes emotional, assistance from the bail fund, those clients would have languished in jail until their court date (usually 4-6 weeks after arraignment). They could have lost their jobs, their housing, their SSI or other government assistance--all for charges the Commonwealth probably wouldn't be seeking jail time for. I've had clients with bonds as low as $1,000, who would never have been able to get out of jail and back on their feet without the bail fund because they live paycheck to paycheck and their poverty is intergenerational. I can think of no reason beyond keeping poor, and mostly Black and Brown, people incarcerated pre-trial for this bill to pass. This will cost taxpayers more money to house and keep human beings in jails across the Commonwealth before they ever get their day in court and will put an even deeper strain on the social support networks that assist indigent citizens in making it through their day. I strongly and passionately ask you to vote NO on this senseless and cruel bill.

Last Name: Hogan Locality: Richmond

As a public defender for over 3 years, I can state unreservedly that this bill presents a flagrant, shameful attempt to regulate out of existence grass roots institutions that have formed to give indigent folks a shot at equal access to justice in the Commonwealth. A vote for this bill is a vote for the denial of equal protection and due process under the law for poor people in our community. Community bail funds provide a vital public service . Where lack of cash in the only thing standing between an accused person and freedom, these organizations step in to bridge the gap and serve to make our justice system fairer and more reliable. HB2152 aims to regulate community bail funds to extinction under the pretext of targeting potential organizational fraud or incompetence . The purported rationale for the bill is specious: there are no data to suggest any deceptive or incompetent practices by the bail funds that currently exist. Moreover, the language of HB2152 allocates unbridled discretion to unaccountable government officials to give or deny the right for bail funds to operate. HB2152 also provides inadequate procedural remedies for bail funds to challenge the licensing decisions of the government. The bill also inexplicably caps at $2000 the amount any bail organization can pay for any given individual, and prohibits posting bond for felony charges. Such provisions demonstrate that the bill’s true design is to dilute and dismantle community bail funds altogether rather than curtail bad practices. The upshot is that HB2152 empowers the government to tax and regulate to death these institutions that are vital to an equitable justice system without adequate accountability, recourse, or justification. I stand opposed to HB2152 and I call on my representatives to do the same.

Last Name: Sapalio Organization: Williamsburg Court Watch Locality: James City County

Dear Committee Members, I am writing to ask that you vote AGAINST HB2152, which would be detrimental to community bail funds, which provide an important service in the Commonwealth. Bail funds help to combat the criminalization of poverty, which occurs when people sit in pretrial detention for lengthy periods of time solely because they can't afford to pay a secured bond. People held unnecessarily in pretrial often lose their jobs, experience severe trauma, and experience major disruptions to their family. The use of bail bondsman does not solve this problem because individuals are required to pay a 10% fee to the bondsman whether or not they appear in court or are found to be innocent. This is a cost many can not afford. Community bail funds provide a critical service. They provide bail to individuals without these high fees and make our system more just for all (not just for those who can afford it). They also often fill a gap for people assigned smaller bail amounts that many bail bondsman won't take on because the profit isn't big enough. The regulations proposed in this legislation are expensive and overly burdensome for these community bail funds, which often operate on very tight budgets. Many funds are largely volunteer led and put as much of their donations toward bail as possible. Putting these expensive and frequent registration requirements on bail funds does nothing more than make it too costly for many community funds to operate. Also, limiting bail amounts to $2000 or less is also a clear move to keep the bulk of the "business" in the hands of the bail bondsman, who are solely focused on profit - not equity in our judicial system. There is no need for this monetary limitation on community bail funds. Please do not pass this legislation out of committee. Thank you, Jessica Sapalio

Last Name: O'Brien Locality: Richmond City

I strongly oppose HB2152. There is no evidence for the proposed regulation of bail funds. Cash bail does not protect communities or ensure justice, and prohibiting bail funds from posting bail over $2000 only serves to further the inequities faced by Virginians without the means to pay. Even brief stays in jail can threaten jobs, homes, and families, regardless of trial outcome. The high COVID-19 infection rates in jails exacerbate the short- and long-term health risks of incarceration. This bill is unconscionable.

Last Name: Mayfield Locality: Richmond

I am a public defender and I strongly oppose this bill. Community bail funds exist to help folks who can't afford their cash bail (which data suggests is outdated and ineffective system itself). If a person has received a cash bond, it means a judge has already determined that person is not a flight risk or a danger to the community. At that point, the only thing that may keep them in jail--or not--is their access to funds. A person with money gets out; a person without money is ripped away from their job, their family, and their life. The motivation behind this bill is baffling and the limits it would impose on bail funds are arbitrary and without data to support them. I urge the house not to pass it.

Last Name: Hasbrouck Locality: Richmond

I am writing in vehement opposition to HB2152. I have been a public defender for over ten years and can say with absolute certainty that bail funds make our communities stronger. Bail funds were created to help the indigent post bonds. Posting a bond is more than simply getting out of jail - it is the ability to continue to care for your children, to keep working and not loose your job, to go to the doctors, to go to treatment, to care for elderly parents or friends, to go to church, to continue community service work and during these times, it is the ability to get released from an environment where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is significant. The data is clear: cash bonds do nothing to ensure the safety of our communities or decrease missed court dates. This lack of efficacy is why jurisdictions throughout Virginia, and the rest of the Country, are abandoning the cash bail system. Cash bail incarcerates the poor simply because they are poor. This is a morally repugnant practice that HB2152 seeks to continue. There is no data that supports increased regulation of community bail funds - there are no allegations of abuse or fraud. This bill is either born from a belief that the poor deserve to be incarcerated or from a desire to continue to the line the pockets of bail bondsmen. Either way, it is an affront to equity and to justice.

Last Name: Larkin Locality: Virginia Beach

I am a Virginia Beach resident and I have volunteered with the local bail fund several times, to bail people out and to provide rides home afterwards. I’ve done this in several cities throughout Hampton Roads including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake, and I can say with full confidence that this bill is classist, racist, and inhumane and should never have even been drafted, let alone proposed to the committee. Forcing people to sit in jail for months on end, or even for a day, solely due to the fact that they cannot afford bail, is an injustice. The harm caused by spending even one night in jail, is immense, and has only become greater during COVID, where cases are rising in the Hampton Roads jails. The only purpose of this bill is to keep poorer people in jail, and richer people out of jail. Please reject this bill for well-being of Virginians and its visitors.

Last Name: Guditus Organization: 757 Solidarity Bail Fund Locality: HAMPTON

I am writing to you today a a member of the volunteer team of the 757 Solidarity Bail Fund. The 757 Solidarity Bail Fund is a project of Humanities Behind Bars, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, and as such, has been posting bail for people in the Tidewater area of Virginia since June of 2020. We have been able to support over 35 people since our founding. HB 2152 would functionally regulate our organization and the three other bail funds in the state of Virginia out of existence. It would prohibit bail funds from posting bails of over $2,000 and would allow us to post bails only in the City of Norfolk. We have posted bails of $500 to $10,000 in different cities, including Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Williamsburg. This bill would also create hugely burdensome infrastructural and administrative hurdles to meeting the state licensure requirement, taking valuable time and capacity away from our small, 100% volunteer-run organization. Most importantly, hundreds of low-income, mostly Black and Brown Virginians would no longer be able to receive our assistance if this bill passes. They will have to either sit in jail for up to several months before their trial, or attempt to go through the often exploitative commercial bonds industry, which charges hundreds of dollars at minimum for the services that bail funds provide for free. We have seen on multiple occasions how just one night in jail can lead to the loss of housing, income, employment, and even children. In a moment when activists and legislators across the Commonwealth are beginning to build meaningful, enduring criminal justice reform, HB 2152 threatens a dangerous regression. Thank you, Casey Guditus

Last Name: DeHority Locality: Christiansburg

To whom it may concern, I heard about this bill through some friends who run a local food pantry, and I have to say I'm appalled. It seems like the point of the bill is to keep communities from coming together and supporting each other when someone needs bail. Especially during COVID when jails have a much higher incidence than everywhere else. If you want jails to do better jobs at tearing apart Virginia communities, and make sure that the justice system only works for people who can afford it, good job. Otherwise, cancel this thing. Sincerely, Riley DeHority Christiansburg, VA

HB2233 - Orders of restitution; docketed on behalf of victim, enforcement.
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.

HB2236 - Behavioral health docket; transfer of supervision.
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.

HB2254 - Unlawful dissemination of unsolicited obscene image of self to another; penalty.
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: Morales Locality: Hampton

I absolutely support this legislation. I’m the one who brought the issue to the Delegate for possible action. About a year ago, I posted on my local real estate professionals Facebook group about a local contractor I barely knew having texted me a gross unsolicited photo of male anatomy and my frustration that it seemed I had no recourse for addressing it. I was not at all surprised to discover, from the comments and from private messages, that many other women in that group had dealt with the same behavior, and far worse, from this man and from many others, just as I had over the years. To my frustration, when I tried to file charges against the man I posted about, I kept hitting dead ends, with law enforcement and magistrates office officials telling me their hands were tied. As a woman, unfortunately, receipt of such unsolicited material via text messages, Facebook messages, etc is not uncommon. In my opinion, such behavior is an act of aggression that must be met with an ability for the victim to impose legal consequences. Thanks for taking this issue seriously and letting me share my experience.

End of Comments