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VA-Gov: Terry McAuliffe (D) Unveils Bold Plan To Build Upon Virginia's Criminal Justice Reforms

6 min read

Here’s the latest news out of Virginia:

Former governor Terry McAuliffe has released his plan for reforming the state’s criminal justice system, focusing on parole, marijuana legalization and the restoration of voting rights.

The Plan of Action for a Fairer Commonwealth prioritizes rehabilitation and second chances, fighting to achieve justice in sentencing, working to rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement, continuing to combat the opioid addiction epidemic, and solidifying the transformation of the juvenile justice system.

“Standing up against relentless Republican opposition and restoring voting rights to 173,000 Virginians is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life, but it was just one important step on the long journey to building a truly fair criminal justice system. For generations, Black and Brown Virginians have been unjustly targeted by our criminal justice system for the color of their skin or the neighborhood they live in. Our work is not done,” said McAuliffe, who is running for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, and a rare second term as governor of Virginia, which does not allow governors to succeed themselves in office.

“Now is the time to finally deliver Virginians an equitable, just system that is firmly rooted in redemption and second chances. Together, we will create a stronger, more equitable Commonwealth that works for its citizens, not against them,” McAuliffe said.

The release of the plan comes two weeks after McAuliffe had called on the Virginia General Assembly to pass a resolution for a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to Virginians convicted of felonies.

Click here to read more on The Plan of Action for a Fairer Commonwealth.

Our friends at the progressive blog, Blue Virginia, highlight McAuliffe’s record on criminal justice reform:

As Virginia’s 72nd Governor, Terry championed progressive criminal justice reforms, despite facing repeated opposition from a Republican legislature. In addition to restoring 173,000 Virginians’ voting rights, he issued 227 pardons, more than any governor before him. Terry also transformed Virginia’s juvenile justice system and reduced the population of incarcerated youths by nearly two-thirds, provided free transportation for families to support visitation, and brought high-speed internet to Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (Bon Air JCC), resulting in the state’s first-ever college credit programs for committed youth. Terry also invested millions of dollars in re-entry programs, alternatives to incarceration, and mental health and substance use disorder services. In 2016, Virginia achieved the lowest recidivism rate in the nation for the first time at 23.4%.

In 2020, Governor Northam and Virginia’s Democratic legislative majority took action to begin to rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement by improving training, increasing accountability, and shifting responsibilities away from law-enforcement agencies and back into communities where they belong. As governor, Terry will work to build on this progress by drastically increasing diversity in law enforcement, refocusing on community policing, shifting responsibilities back into community services, and expanding body-worn camera programs.

Since launching his campaign, Terry has released big, bold plans to strengthen Virginia’s education system and dramatically increase teacher pay, help secure Virginia’s economic recovery from COVID-19, ensure Virginians have access to regular nutritious meals, address the broken, predatory system of prescription drug pricing, and boldly confront the gun violence epidemic in the Commonwealth. As governor, Terry will take bold and decisive action to create jobs, protect workers, invest in mental health services, and rebuild Virginia’s thriving network of small businesses, particularly Black and Brown-owned businesses.

McAuliffe has even released an ad promoting his record and his plan:

Last week, McAuliffe also laid out his plan for tackling gun violence:

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is running for another term at the helm of the state, says that if elected he will push for an assault weapons ban as part of a broader gun control agenda.
McAuliffe, one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, shared his plans for gun control policy on Monday, when gun rights protesters rallied against such measures in downtown Richmond.
Aside from a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, McAuliffe vowed to create an “Office of Gun Violence Prevention” within state government, and to fund a research center within a Virginia university to study gun violence.
“As governor, I will work tirelessly to eliminate these weapons of war from our streets, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and keep our communities safe,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
McAuliffe’s gun control plan also includes stricter background check laws, expanding the current requirement for checks on all sales to also include private transfers.

McAuliffe has also been leading the pack in fundraising:

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has more money for his comeback campaign for Virginia governor than all of his Republican and Democratic rivals combined, according to end-of-year fundraising totals released Saturday.
McAuliffe, who left office in January 2018, had $5.5 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
The contender with the next-highest sum was a fellow Democrat, former state delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (Prince William), with about $1.3 million in the bank.
Among the other Democrats, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (Richmond) had about $633,000 on hand, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax had about $79,000, and Del. Lee J. Carter (Manassas) had about $7,000.
Among Republicans, Del. Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), a former speaker of the state House, had about $691,000 on hand. State Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield) had about $235,000.

Picking up endorsements from local politicians:

Del. Chris Hurst, former House Majority Leader C. Richard “Dickie” Cranwell, Montgomery County Supervisor Mary Biggs, and Bristol community leader Rev. Jackie Nophlin are endorsing Terry McAuliffe for the Democratic Party nomination for governor.

To learn more about the McAuliffe campaign, visit www.TerryMcAuliffe.com.

“Southwest Virginia is at a major crossroads. We need a leader as governor who will boldly assist the growth of the New River Valley; someone who can hit the ground running on day one to help rebuild Virginia,” said Hurst, who represents Montgomery County, Giles County and Pulaski County and the City of Radford in the House of Delegates.

“Looking forward, I care about the future and there is no question in my mind that Terry is the best choice to lead us as governor into brighter days ahead,” Hurst said.

“As a survivor of domestic gun violence, I have personally experienced the horrors of gun violence in our Commonwealth. I know we need a bold leader like Terry who will take action to keep our communities and families safe,” Nophlin said. “As Virginia’s 72nd governor, Terry passed some of the first meaningful gun safety laws in decades, including a domestic violence law that was one of the toughest in the nation. Terry’s bold plan builds on his success and will help keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. I have faith that he will be an outstanding governor.”

And from national leaders:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced her endorsement of Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor Friday morning.

In her endorsement, Pelosi praised McAuliffe’s progressive record as Virginia’s 72nd governor, including restoring voting rights to more than 173,000 Virginians, creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs, and protecting women’s access to health care.

Pelosi said that Terry’s bold vision will ensure that Virginians benefit from the Commonwealth’s post COVID-19 economic recovery.

I’ll be  covering McAuliffe and the other Democrats campaigns as well. Click here to donate and get involved with McAuliffe’s campaign.

Click here to donate and get involved with the Virginia Democratic Party.

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