Public Comments for 02/08/2021 Public Safety
SB1119 - Law-enforcement agencies; body-worn camera systems.
No Comments Available
SB1129 - Military honor guards and veterans service organizations; paramilitary activities.
Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

Only people that are 18 years or older can carry or display a weapon in any type of Military honor guards and veterans service organizations that has been modified to fire non-lethal rounds and has completed a training course designed for that purpose.

SB1198 - Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act; license plate readers.
Last Name: Bishop Organization: Virginia Law Enforcement Sheriffs ("VLES") Locality: RICHMOND

OPPOSE

Last Name: Gastanaga Organization: American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia Locality: City of Richmond

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports SB1198. The bill would amend the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Virginia’s important privacy protection law) to clarify that your license plate number is a personal identifier, ensure that government agencies can’t avoid complying with the Act by purposely keeping data systems separate so that they can argue that they aren’t an information system covered by the law, and prohibit policing agencies that use automated license plate readers to vacuum up pictures of automobiles “just because and just in case” from keeping those pictures (which usually reveal not just your license plate number but bumper stickers and are geo tagged with time and location) for more than 30 days, unless directly related to a criminal investigation. This is a common sense personal privacy protection measure that draws the right balance between government’s need to know things about you and your right to keep your personal movements confidential from government. While ALPRs can serve a valid and useful law enforcement purpose, they can also be used to build a vast database of vehicle locations that may be queried to build profiles of where individuals go, at what times, and how often, and who else is in the vicinity. It is one of the many new technologies that allow for massive surveillance of Virginians not suspected of any criminal activity. As one legislator said, it allows the government to find “probable cause by algorithm.” To ensure that all law enforcement and regulatory agencies in the Commonwealth protect the privacy of Virginians, the General Assembly should pass SB1198 that clarifies that license plate numbers are personal information under the Data Act and that police cannot keep information collected through “passive” use of ALPRs unrelated to a criminal investigation for more than 30 days.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

Only Law-enforcement or DMV should ONLY have access to any type of license plate readers. NO ONE else should be allowed to access this information.

SB1256 - Criminal Justice Services Board and Committee on Training; membership.
No Comments Available
SB1296 - Emergency Management Equity Working Group; established.
Last Name: Branch-Ellis Organization: Virginia Department of Emergency Management Locality: North Chesterfield

VDEM is highly supportive of this bill. We would like to speak in support, although we recognize our request to do so is within a short timeframe of the meeting beginning. If we are able to speak in support, we would be sincerely appreciative. My email address is Desire.Branch-Ellis@vdem.virginia.gov . Thank you!

SB1300 - Inmates; Board of Local and Regional Jails to review services provided during pregnancy, etc.
Last Name: Henrickson Locality: Sterling

My name is Abbie Henrickson, and I live in Sterling, Virginia. I am writing to urge you to support Senate Bill 1300 (Workgroup on Reproductive Healthcare for Pregnant Incarcerated Persons). I am deeply concerned about the treatment of pregnant incarcerated persons. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.” Establishing a workgroup to study and recommend best practices for the care and treatment of pregnant incarcerated persons is crucial. The commonwealth has the responsibility for the care and treatment of pregnant persons throughout their pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Although there are many reasons that demonstrate the need for this workgroup, I will highlight some of them below: *Eliminating of the use of restraints (handcuffs, waist chains, or leg irons). Pregnant incarcerated persons are unlikely to be violent offenders or flight risks. This would reduce the risk of the pregnant person falling and the risk of preventing pregnant persons failing to bond with their children, which can have long-term negative consequences. *Ensuring access to routine medical appointments. *Ensuring the fulfillment of nutritional needs. *Access to safe abortions, which is critical reproductive healthcare. I urge you to support Senate Bill 1300. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Gwynn Locality: Newport News

My name is Howard Gwynn, and I am the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Newport News. I have been a prosecutor here since May 1, 1982. I write this email to register my strong support for SB1300. This bill will go a long towards ensuring that incarcerated pregnant inmates get “… the full range of obstetric and gynecological services” necessary to make sure that the needs of mother and child are met. This bill also recognizes the fact that , in spite of the fact that they have committed a criminal offense, these women are first and foremost human beings and should be treated with dignity and respect. Thank you for being the patron of this very important legislation.

Last Name: Chavez Locality: Fairfax

I became a grandmother to a beautiful and healthy baby boy three years ago. When Max was still in utero, he was already over eight pounds— I still remember my daughter’s fear when she thought about pushing him in a natural birth. She asked for a c-section, but the doctor advised her against it until it was absolutely necessary, recommending the best option for her health and her pregnancy. We certainly weren’t prepared for her delivery date. When her contractions started early that morning, we headed off to the hospital where she was admitted, despite her contractions not being close enough in time to typically warrant admission. While we waited, her doula provided safe, compassionate support by helping my daughter use an exercise ball and breathing techniques. By 7pm that night, my daughter was begging for an epidural and pain management from her doctors—but they refused, saying she wasn’t far enough along yet. My daughter and I both knew her body and her pain tolerance. Our doula tried her best to advocate on my daughter’s behalf, but still, nothing. It wasn’t until 11pm that night she finally got the epidural and intravenous pain management. In the hours that followed, she kept pressing the call button because she was still in pain, but received no additional care. To not be heard and respected when you try to communicate your pain, it’s devastating. And it was devastating for me too, to watch as a mother and not be able do anything to help my child. At 1am, she said she could feel the baby coming. Even when she said our little Max was coming, the doctors and nurses still didn’t believe her, so she was told not to push. It wasn’t until the nurse finally checked her dilation, nearly 45 minutes later, that she finally acquiesced my daughter was more than ready. It only took five pushes for my grandson to be born after that. Once my grandson was born, my daughter began shaking uncontrollably to the point where she couldn’t even hold him. We were shocked at how she had been treated already, and I was terrified something else was wrong. Max was having trouble breathing at first, too, because of how long he had to wait to finally arrive into the world. Those stressful minutes felt like hours. Today, Max is a bouncy, energetic three-year-old and my daughter is a healthy and wonderful mother. But that birthing experience traumatized both of us. I can’t even begin to imagine how much worse it could have been if my daughter had been incarcerated. If she had been shackled to the delivery bed, like some women still are in the Commonwealth, would she have self-inflicted harm to her body when she began shaking uncontrollably? If she didn’t have her doula by her side advocating for her, would she have had to wait even longer to begin pushing, potentially causing life-altering respiratory harm to my grandson? Every person – regardless if they’re incarcerated – deserves to have a safe and compassionate birthing experience. Even though Max’s birth was difficult, my daughter didn’t have to suffer at all the same kind of dehumanizing treatment our incarcerated women – and their pregnancies -- are forced through. That’s why I’m asking you to please support SB1300. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

The baby is not guilty of any crime. Therefore, the jurisdiction MUST provide any and all services necessary for the birth and care of the baby until such arraignments can be made to remove the baby from the existing environment.

SB1301 - Correctional facilities; use of isolated confinement.
Last Name: Sandoval Locality: Silver Spring

Solitary confinement is widely recognized as painful and difficult to endure. “It's an awful thing, solitary,” U.S. Senator John McCain wrote of his time in isolation as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” Research over the past few decades has documented the harmful effects of solitary confinement. Most of the research has reported adverse psychological and physical consequences of solitary confinement. In addition to increased psychiatric symptoms generally, suicide rates and incidents of self-harm are much higher for prisoners in solitary confinement. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who are in solitary confinement in New York City jails were nearly seven times more likely to harm themselves than those in general population, and that the effect was particularly pronounced for youth and people with severe mental illness. In California prisons in 2004, 73% of all suicides occurred in isolation units—though these units accounted for less than 10% of the state’s total prison population. In the Indiana Department of Corrections, the rate of suicides in segregation was almost three times that of other housing units. Solitary confinement is an egregious manifestation of the punishment paradigm that governs many state and national policies and practices throughout the criminal justice system. Solitary is a brutal practice that needs to be eliminated, and supporting SB301 would accomplish this goal, and Virginia would be among the first to do, blazing a path for others to follow.

Last Name: Jenkins-Snodgrass Organization: Interfaith Action for Human Rights Locality: Stafford

I am the chair of Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR). IAHR represents people of faith who educate and advocate in Maryland, DC, and Virginia for corrections systems that avoid unnecessarily punitive practices such as solitary confinement and that instead focus on rehabilitation and successful reentry. Support SB 1301, which effectively ends prolonged Isolation for both adults and juveniles in Virginia State Prisons. Please remove the bill clause and end prolonged Isolation in Virginia which is very costly. Ending prolonged Isolation will bring savings to the Department of Corrections. The Department's excessive impact statement must not be 'rubber-stamped' by this committee. I ask that you end an era of all agencies submitting exaggerated impact statements to 'stop' much-needed legislation. I also ask the committee not to reduce this effort to another study of the "pain" and inhumanity experienced by African Americans and people of color. Last week's impeachment trial, 7 Republicans reached across the aisle and broke ranks voting they're conscious. "We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is ripe to do right." It is time to end torture in Virginia State Prisons. Let's lead in Prison Reform, joining DELAWARE, NORTH DAKOTA, NJ, COLORADO, AND WASHINGTON TO ELIMINATE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT ADMINISTRATIVELY.

Last Name: Feinberg Organization: Interfaith Action for Human Rights Locality: Washington DC

I am the executive director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR). IAHR represents people of faith who educate and advocate in Maryland, DC and Virginia for corrections systems that avoid unnecessarily punitive practices such as solitary confinement and that instead focus on rehabilitation and successful reentry. Please support SB 1301 that effectively ends prolonged isolation for both adults and juveniles in Virginia State Prisons. Prolonged Isolation for longer than 15 days was defined as an act of torture by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Moreover, numerous medical and psychological studies have determined that prolonged isolation (longer than 15 days) can damage the mental and physical health of a person. Correctional authorities can manage behavior without resorting to prolonged isolation. Yet, the State of Virginia routinely places incarcerated people in restrictive housing (prolonged isolation) for months and sometimes years. Recently, the State of Virginia settled two lawsuits brought on behalf of two different incarcerated people who were prolonged isolation (solitary confinement) for months and years. Prolonged isolation (solitary confinement) in Virginia is very costly. Ending prolonged isolation will bring savings to the Department of Corrections. Yet, the Department of Corrections has stated that SB1301 will cost many millions of additional dollars. The Department asserts that SB1301 will require the Department to hire many more mental health workers and other medical and psychological personnel. But the Department refuses to acknowledge that the savings from ending prolonged isolation can then be invested in more psychological, medical, and educational services for the incarcerated. SB1301 has been amended so that the Department will not be required to hire additional staff. However, we at IAHR believe the savings gained from ending prolonged isolation will enable the Department to hire more mental health workers and medical personnel to meet the needs of those so incarcerated. Finally, The Department of Corrections has implicitly acknowledged that prolonged isolation is not a desirable way to maintain security in prisons. Over the last few years, the Department has significantly reduced the numbers of people placed in restrictive housing or prolonged isolation while still holding many in prolonged isolation cells. SB1301 then will mandate the Department to finish its work by ending prolonged isolation (longer than 15 days) all together. It also then prevents any future Director of Corrections from re-instituting prolonged isolation. It is time to end torturing incarcerated people by isolating them for months and years. Please pass SB1301!

Last Name: Yarbrough Organization: Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation (SEAL) Locality: Norfolk

I am providing these comments as a member of the “Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation'' coalition (SEAL). We are a volunteer group of several hundred graduate students and early career researchers from universities across the Commonwealth, and our goal is to support science and evidence-based decision making in our government by providing unbiased scientific and technical advising services to the legislature. Our SEAL research team has determined that there is sufficient sound scientific backing to support the passage of SB-1301, to reduce the use of isolated confinement in our state correctional facilities by imposing clear and strict requirements governing its use. Extensive review of the research related to this multifaceted issue reveals (1) a lack of demonstrated efficacy beyond the exceptions provided for in this bill, (2) excess cost on the order of two to three times more than standard than standard housing options, and (3) substantial evidence supporting deleterious outcomes resulting from widespread use of isolated confinement with limited oversight. This comment provides further details about the physical health impacts which have been found to be associated with isolated confinement. Physical health repercussions of isolated confinement have received an increasing amount of attention in recent years. Isolated confinement has shown to lead to signs and symptoms such as; weight fluctuation, skin irritations, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal pain, among others. Inmates subjected to the conditions of isolated confinement experience 31% higher hypertension occurrence than those in standard housing of maximum security units, resulting in higher medical costs and loss of quality-adjusted life years. Previous studies have also revealed that the constant lack of natural sunlight experienced by inmates in isolated confinement is associated with vitamin D deficiency, a particular risk for older inmates with higher risks of falls and fractures. Taken together with the generally poor efficacy and excess costs associated with isolated confinement, this evidence supports the reduced use of isolated confinement in our state correctional facilities and is in alignment with the goals of this bill.

Last Name: Goggin Organization: Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation (SEAL) Locality: Charlottesville

I am providing these comments as a member of the “Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation'' coalition (SEAL). We are a volunteer group of several hundred graduate students and early career researchers from universities across the Commonwealth, and our goal is to support science and evidence-based decision making in our government by providing unbiased scientific and technical advising services to the legislature. Our SEAL research team has determined that there is sufficient sound scientific backing to support the passage of SB-1301, to reduce the use of isolated confinement in our state correctional facilities by imposing clear and strict requirements governing its use. Extensive review of the research related to this multifaceted issue reveals (1) a lack of demonstrated efficacy beyond the exceptions provided for in this bill, (2) excess cost on the order of two to three times more than standard than standard housing options, and (3) substantial evidence supporting deleterious outcomes resulting from widespread use of isolated confinement with limited oversight. This comment provides further details about isolated confinement’s adverse consequences on prisoner misconduct and recidivism. There is a modest and growing body of research examining the effects of exposure to isolated confinement on institutional safety or community safety as measured by further prisoner misconduct while incarcerated or recidivism upon release. We were unable to find a single study showing significant decreases in misconduct or recidivism associated with exposure to isolated confinement. Extensive review of this literature revealed findings ranging from isolated confinement having null (no) association with misconduct or recidivism to isolated confinement being associated with increased misconduct or recidivism. These effects vary across inmates dependent on a wide variety of offender characteristics. Specifically, recent research suggests that isolated confinement for mentally ill inmates and gang members leads to significant increases in subsequent misconduct while incarcerated. Taken together with the full body of research surrounding this issue , this evidence supports the reduced use of isolated confinement in our state correctional facilities and is in alignment with the goals of this bill.

Last Name: Mast Organization: Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation Coalition Locality: Charlottesville

I am providing these comments as a member of the “Scientists and Engineers Advising Legislation'' coalition (SEAL). We are a volunteer group of several hundred graduate students and early career researchers from universities across the Commonwealth, and our goal is to support science and evidence-based decision-making in our government by providing unbiased scientific and technical advising services to the legislature. Our SEAL research team has determined that there is sufficient sound scientific backing to support the passage of SB-1301, to reduce the use of isolated confinement in our state correctional facilities by imposing clear and strict requirements governing its use. Extensive review of the research related to this multifaceted issue reveals (1) a lack of demonstrated efficacy beyond the exceptions provided for in this bill, (2) excess cost on the order of two to three times more than standard than standard housing options, and (3) substantial evidence supporting deleterious outcomes resulting from widespread use of isolated confinement with limited oversight. This comment provides further details about isolated confinement’s adverse consequences on the mental health of inmates. Previous studies suggest that inmates in isolated confinement experience higher mortality rates due to non-natural causes, sensory deprivation, and psychological distress compared to inmates in the general population. Specifically, inmates in isolated confinement can experience: perceptual changes such as distortions, hallucinations, and derealization experiences, affective disturbances, disturbances of thought content, and problems with impulse control. Moreover, previous studies suggest that isolated confinement can cause physiological changes to the brain, such as a decrease in the size of the hippocampus, which controls emotion and learning, and can result in a decrease in total volume of neurons. More recent studies in incarcerated juveniles revealed that juveniles in isolated confinement can also experience a physiological change in the frontal lobe of their developing brain, which affects their ability to reason. Further, individuals recently released from prison who had a history of isolated confinement have been shown to be more likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder than those who had not been isolated; this finding highlights the traumatic experience of isolated confinement with potentially long-term emotional effects. It should also be noted that mentally ill inmates are known to be more likely to be placed in isolated confinement instead of receiving appropriate treatment for their condition. Given the above evidence, placing an inmate in isolation will likely only worsen their condition.

Last Name: Fegan Organization: Virginia Department of Corrections Locality: Richmond

Lois Fegan, Chief of Restrictive Housing for the Virginia Department of Corrections. Presence requested in case questions arise from the floor about SB1301 - Isolated Confinement.

Last Name: Agraharkar Organization: ACLU of Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA

SB 1301: On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia's 200,000 members and supporters, we strongly support SB 1301. We have become acutely aware through our own research; from incarcerated people who reach out to us; and through lawsuits we have filed, that far too many people have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of DOC's overreliance on solitary confinement. The impact of solitary on mental health is well known, and can be devastating and long-lasting. Researchers have found that social isolation, sensory deprivation, and enforced idleness is a toxic combination that can lead to a range of significant mental health symptoms and can themselves lead to behaviors that cause people to cycle in and out of segregation while incarcerated and then have difficulties re-entering society. A recent study in JAMA found that people who had spent “any time in restrictive housing” while incarcerated were “significantly more likely to die of all causes in the first year after their release than those who did not.”   This bill also improves public safety by pushing prisons to be more rehabilitative than they are today. The bill reimagines segregation as an emergency measure to stabilize someone who is a threat to safety in general population, instead of a default option for dealing with a range of behaviors including symptoms of mental health issues.   Finally, we have real concerns about the accuracy of the fiscal impact statement that VDOC provided to the Department of Planning and Budget. We know from speaking with people who have first-hand experience implementing similar reforms that they can yield substantial savings in the long-term by resulting in far fewer people being kept in isolation or in costly supermax facilities, and we know that holding people in solitary costs far more in staffing and close supervision than holding people in general population.   SB 1363: On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia and its supporters and members, we write to oppose SB 1363. ACLU-VA believes strongly that DOC is in need of effective and independent oversight, which is why we supported HB 2325. While we appreciate the similar intention behind SB 1363, we would rather the legislature pass nothing than a bill that will give the public the impression that DOC is subject to independent oversight when it is not; that will make the Board of Local and Regional Jails less effective at its current mission of jail oversight; and that will hinder efforts to create truly effective, independent civilian oversight next session. Because BLRJ is not entirely independent of DOJ, because this bill provides it with vague and limited oversight authority, and because this bill places too much responsibility on an under-staffed agency without adequate funding for real oversight, we oppose this bill.

Last Name: Horejsi Organization: Social Action Linking Together (SALT) Locality: Vienna

Sub Committee Chairman and members: On behalf of our 1300 SALT members I URGE YOU TO VOTE FOR SB1301 limiting and ending Solitary Confinement. SALT supports the reducing of solitary Confinement to an absolute minimum and legislation to ban it for the mentally ill. This practice of over use by VDOC is considered torture and fails to meet the constructive and rehabilitative purposes of criminals justice. Just consider the two most recent ACLU Court settlements against VDOC for a reported $115,000 to two inmates who spent almost 13 years each in Solitary Confinement An Analysis of the Fiscal Impact of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in another state reports that Solitary confinement ending Save Money, Save Lives: An Analysis of the Fiscal Impact of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act in another state saves money & saves lives. Date: Nov 29, 2020 Author(s): Partnership for the Public Good Topic(s): Criminal Justice: General, Criminal Justice: Incarceration Report In New York State, a majority of state lawmakers support passage of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act (S.1623/A.2500), to restrict the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails in line with international human rights standards. Several local legislatures have endorsed the bill, including the Erie County Legislature. In “Save Money, Save Lives,” Partnership for the Public Good provides a fiscal analysis of the potential impact of the HALT Act which reveals that the opposite is true. Implementing the HALT Act can save New York State and local governments an estimated $132 million dollars annually, or $1.3 billion dollars over 10 years. People in prisons and jails are people, family members, and community members — they are not simply dollars and cents. Regardless of the fiscal impact, solitary confinement has long been recognized as torture and it should be ended. That said, the fiscal savings are yet another reason for States to act now and pass Solitary Confinement ending, Thank you for the opportunity to testify. john Horejsi, Coordinator, Social Action linking Together (SALT) jhorejsi@cox.net

Last Name: Stewart Organization: SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT) Locality: Fairfax County

Please support SB 1301 Correctional facilities; use of isolated confinement that effectively ends prolonged isolation for both adults and juveniles in Virginia State Prisons. Prolonged Isolation for longer than 15 days was defined as an act of torture by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Moreover, numerous medical and psychological studies have determined that prolonged isolation (longer than 15 days) can damage the mental and physical health of a person. Correctional authorities can manage behavior without resorting to prolonged isolation. Documentation for supporting this legislation can be found by clicking on Solitary Confinement Fact Sheet: What Other States Have Done to Address the Cost and Cruelty which can be found on the SALT web page: https://s-a-l-t.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=325:what-other-states-have-done-to-address-the-cost-and-cruelty&catid=2:uncategorised. At least five states (Colorado, Delaware, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Washington) have adopted similar policies proposed by SB 1301, either through legislation or administrative actions. These states have all shown an approximate neutral fiscal impact when they have reduced or eliminated the use of isolated confinement. Recent documentation of the cruelty of this practice in Virginia can be found in these two articles: 1) ARTICLE IN THE RICHMOND-TIMES DISPATCH--https://richmond.com/news/state-and-regional/settlement-reached-in-case-of-virginia-inmate-allegedly-held-in-solitary-for-more-than-12/article_93863eee-8b8e-55e9-bbbb-e7470265ea5d.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1. 2) A VIRGINIA PRISON HELD A MAN IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR OVER 600 DAYS--https://theappeal.org/a-virginia-prison-held-a-man-in-solitary-confinement-for-over-600-days/. Submitted on February 10, 2021, by Robert Stewart, SALT Public Affairs Coordinator

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

I would ask that you support this bill!

SB1363 - Local and Regional Jails, State Board of; membership, powers and duties, effective clause.
Last Name: Agraharkar Organization: ACLU of Virginia Locality: Richmond, VA

SB 1301: On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia's 200,000 members and supporters, we strongly support SB 1301. We have become acutely aware through our own research; from incarcerated people who reach out to us; and through lawsuits we have filed, that far too many people have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of DOC's overreliance on solitary confinement. The impact of solitary on mental health is well known, and can be devastating and long-lasting. Researchers have found that social isolation, sensory deprivation, and enforced idleness is a toxic combination that can lead to a range of significant mental health symptoms and can themselves lead to behaviors that cause people to cycle in and out of segregation while incarcerated and then have difficulties re-entering society. A recent study in JAMA found that people who had spent “any time in restrictive housing” while incarcerated were “significantly more likely to die of all causes in the first year after their release than those who did not.”   This bill also improves public safety by pushing prisons to be more rehabilitative than they are today. The bill reimagines segregation as an emergency measure to stabilize someone who is a threat to safety in general population, instead of a default option for dealing with a range of behaviors including symptoms of mental health issues.   Finally, we have real concerns about the accuracy of the fiscal impact statement that VDOC provided to the Department of Planning and Budget. We know from speaking with people who have first-hand experience implementing similar reforms that they can yield substantial savings in the long-term by resulting in far fewer people being kept in isolation or in costly supermax facilities, and we know that holding people in solitary costs far more in staffing and close supervision than holding people in general population.   SB 1363: On behalf of the ACLU of Virginia and its supporters and members, we write to oppose SB 1363. ACLU-VA believes strongly that DOC is in need of effective and independent oversight, which is why we supported HB 2325. While we appreciate the similar intention behind SB 1363, we would rather the legislature pass nothing than a bill that will give the public the impression that DOC is subject to independent oversight when it is not; that will make the Board of Local and Regional Jails less effective at its current mission of jail oversight; and that will hinder efforts to create truly effective, independent civilian oversight next session. Because BLRJ is not entirely independent of DOJ, because this bill provides it with vague and limited oversight authority, and because this bill places too much responsibility on an under-staffed agency without adequate funding for real oversight, we oppose this bill.

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

Hello, Senators; Please vote NO for SB1363 Local Regional Jails, Board of; powers and duties, Sen Marsden. We feel this bill is neither fair nor is it balanced in the composition of its oversight board. Plus by being under the Department of Corrections, it would not be independent. There must be independent oversight of the Department of Corrections. Please Vote NO for SB1363 and instead support independent accountability and oversight of the DOC as described by Del Hope's bill which has now been sent to the Crime Commission for further study. Thank you. Gary and Debra Turner 540-421-5092

Last Name: Weneta Organization: The Humanization Project Locality: Fairfax

The Humanization Project, while supporting the intent of SB1363, we believe the bill needs significant change and work. The composition of the oversight board it creates is not balanced and fails to incorporate important stakeholders such as family or loved ones of those incarcerated, a physician, and is heavy on law enforcement and correctional personnel. In its current composition it is effectively the police policing the police. While there is one advocate and one formerly incarcerated person on the board, as written this could be someone who spent one night in jail and nothing more. Even so, the advocate and formerly incarcerated members are seemingly token members as they are, again, far outweighed by former law enforcement. Another issue with this bill is that it does not create independent oversight. No remedy of issues. There is not a manner in which someone who is incarcerated or their loved ones can access this board, file a complaint, or submit a grievance, nor does it provide for reasonable access to correctional facilities, records, surveillance video from correctional facilities, etc. Again, while we appreciate the intent of Sen Marsden’s SB1363, we believe it needs work. We, along with many others in the advocacy community, would be happy to work with him to craft a more inclusive and equitable bill that provides for independent oversight, much needed access to facilities and records, and an ability to address issues in real time. We believe it is important that oversight is created. However, it MUST be meaningful and representative of actual stakeholders. We respectfully request that SB1363 be laid on the table with a letter from the Chair of this committee referring it to the Crime Commission for study and recommendations.

SB1381 - Weapons; possessing or transporting within Capitol Square, etc.
Last Name: Boyd Organization: League of Women Voters of Virginia Locality: Arlington

Thank you Chairman Hope and Members of the Committee. The League of Women Voters strongly supports SB 1381 and urges you to report out this bill. Virginia voters should be able to enter state buildings and areas, and to interact with our government officials, without being concerned about violence. Even concealed weapons make it more likely that heated confrontations will turn deadly. This bill will ensure that all qualified Virginians can participate in representative democracy freely and without fear of intimidation. The League strongly supports this bill, and we urge you to vote for it. Thank you.

Last Name: Winters Organization: Peninsula Area Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America Locality: Newport News

I am writing to urge you to support SB1381 that would to ban firearms in state buildings. As the local lead of Peninsula Area Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America, I have been to the Capitol building several times during General Assembly sessions and have experienced first hand the intimidation of standing beside heavily armed people who are obviously trying to do just that. I was in a committee hearing when the room had to be cleared suddenly because these very same people would not adhere to the rules. We had to walk outside with these very angry, heavily armed individuals. This is not what our forefathers intended, I am sure. Thank you.

Last Name: Philip Van Cleave Organization: Virginia Citizens Defense League Locality: Chesterfield

The Virginia Citizens Defense League STRONGLY OPPOSES SB1381. SB1381 takes away the right to self-defense, not only in Capitol Square, but also in rest areas and other state government buildings. These buildings are owned by the People and their civil rights should be protected there.

Last Name: Crocker Locality: Yorktown

Please vote yes on SB1381, to prohibit firearms in state buildings and at Capitol Square. I have visited Richmond several times to speak to lawmakers about legislative issues, and each time, have experienced intimidation and fear, from individuals openly carrying weapons in the buildings there. This bill would make me feel safer in exercising my own First Amendment rights in Richmond, while not hampering the ability of other individuals to do the same.

Last Name: Hassan Taylor Organization: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Locality: York

I would like to express my support for this bill.

Last Name: Webb Organization: Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) Locality: Beaverdam

By banning guns and other defensive weapons in Capitol Square you are putting your staff and constituents in jeopardy. Unless you intend to put metal detectors and guards at all entrances of the square, there is no guarantee that a criminal will not be armed. In fact, it has been shown that criminals look for places where the law abiding are forced to be defenseless. Violent criminals seek out these places so that they can minimize the risk to themselves. It is not the average person that is the problem here. If we could magically make a law and prevent crimes we would not have murder, rape, robbery or any number of things that have been illegal for centuries. But, sadly, there is evil in the world. And the only way to stop evil is to meet it with an equal and opposite resistance. I implore you to think of your staff, who must traverse the square on a regular basis. Think of your constituents, who may use the area before or after they come to your office. Think of your oath of office, to uphold the Constitutions of the US and Virginia. If you consider these things fairly you will have no choice but to vote against SB1381, which bans all means of self defense from Capitol Square. Respectfully, Patricia Y Webb

Last Name: Tolson Locality: Fredericksburg

I strongly oppose SB1381 and urge this bill be defeated. Virginia has always been a “open carry” state and supporter of individuals right to safely possess firearms. This bill is a blaring affront to those rights and another step by this administration and current Democratic majority to deny and remove a persons right to even possess a firearm or simple knife and have the STATE CONFISCATE & DESTROY a person firearm WITH NO REDRESS!!! Example: Section C. A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any weapon or item possessed or transported in violation of this section shall be subject to seizure by a law-enforcement officer and forfeited to the Commonwealth and disposed of as provided in § 19.2-386.28. Va. Citizens proved in January 2020 that its gun owners can safely carry arms and still be peaceful-remember the TENS of THOUSANDS who showed up to protest last years bills! Efforts like this that attack a law abiding citizens rights are what’s bringing this country to a boil . But Good lord willing we change this atVa’s Next election!!!!!!!

Last Name: Oyer Locality: yorktown

Oppose SB1381 Its' a crying shame when a majority of our elected officials in Richmond become documented hypocrites and trample all over the 2nd Amendment and our Virginia Constitution....Do as I say, not as I do. Thomas Jefferson clearly wanted me to have protection for the long journey to and while in Richmond: “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” I listened to some of our Legislators bring up this very issue....it fell on def ears. The Federalist Papers have much more from other Founding Fathers.....to bad most politicians are clueless....pun intended!

Last Name: Wolff Locality: Hampton

As a citizen of the United States and a resident of Virginia, it is my constitutional right to carry a firearm. Yet you want to create 'gun free zones', which only encourage criminal behavior - and law abiding gun owners will comply to the detriment of others who become victims of criminals. The Virginia Legislature is burying an open carry bill that would benefit everyone in Virginia. Your actions against law abiding gun ownership is appalling. You must OPPOSE this bill.

Last Name: Gutenson Locality: Vienna

Oppose SB1381 - Okay, so you think it's a good idea to limit law-abiding people from carrying at state buildings? Have you been to Richmond? That's a scary place - worse than our Rt. 1 corridor in Fairfax County Va. No way should any professional woman find herself in these areas without a concealed weapon. And parking lots? So what do I have to take my weapon out of my vehicle and stow it behind a tree somewhere off the state property every time I have business on state property and have to park in a state parking lot? This is crazy. And it affects people like me who follow the letter of the law. Oh and rest areas ... are you serious? So anyone carrying can't park in a rest area and use the facilities because this would have them breaking the law. The criminals won't give a hoot about the law. Just us moms out here trying to live a good life as law-abiding citizens. Virginia is one of the safest states. Stop the harassment of the good people of Virginia. I have a right to speak my mind, carry the weapon of my choice, hang out with whomever I want, send my children to an actual school that meets in person, make my own health decisions as it is my body, and live a free life. Nothing is more important than freedom. Stop infringing on our rights. This is just over the top.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

No private citizens needs to have on the Capital Squire. Please support this bill.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Henrico, VA. USA

Please support this bill WITH OUT the notification language.

End of Comments