"Improving the effectiveness and fairness of Virginias' criminial justice system"--RIHD


Defendants in Virginia are getting trapped by harsh sentencing and denied the right to a fair appeal.
Take Kevin Key a first time offender convicted of a nonviolent drug offense. Sentencing guidelines presented by probation and parole officials recommended no more than 2 years and 2 days of incarceration.
Instead, he was sentenced to 31 years. Because Virginia abolished parole, he won’t get out until 2027. His family lives in California and can’t afford to visit him because they have drained their bank accounts for legal expenses.
Kevin Key’s case is not unique. In more than 3000 cases between 2007 and 2013(1) judges provided no written reason for exceeding sentencing guidelines -- even though they are required to do so by law (Va. Code § 19.2-298.01). What’s worse, Virginia law does not allow this to form the basis of post-conviction relief or be reviewable on appeal.

The Virginia legislature has the power to change this. We need you to tell your legislators to amend the Virginia Code to address this injustice.  (1) 1995-2006 & 2014 to current; estimated 10,000 plus additional sentencing guideline disparity cases. 

Show Support for Change. 10,000 Signatures Online Petition: 


Jury deliberations are weighty and complex, making it vital participants be able to factor in all the relevant information. Yet, for five years, juries in Virginia imposed heavy-handed sentences without knowing the state had decided to abolish its parole system.
In cases where juries inquired as to whether a defendant might one day be eligible for parole --- judges replied that, because of a legal restrictions, they weren’t allowed to answer.
Looking back, jurors who served during this period (1995 to 2000) have said they would have imposed shorter, fairer sentences, had they known parole release wasn’t being offered to prisoners, anymore.

The 2017 Virginia legislature failed to fix this egregious mistake/error/injustice, we must now look to Virginia Governor McAuliffe help, he too has the power to fix this mistake by granting resentencing proceedings to the affected parties. We’ve waited long enough. The time to act is now.

Show Support for Change.  10,000 Signatures Online Petition:

1995:  Parole was abolished and replaced with “Truth in Sentencing Laws,” with little to none oversight for years, sentencing errors occurred and was never addressed, amended and or ignored by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  This led to out-cry from incarcerated/defendants and their families, seeking assistance to remedy.  
2009:  Years later, RIHD learned of several unfair and erroreous sentencing guidelines and laws, though with no funding to do the research, we moved in our conviction to assist as best as we could. 
Since, RIHD has led a grass-root & state-wide movement for sentencing reform, correcting errors/injustice of the past that remain uncorrected.
2015:  RIHD  (2) POSITION PAPERS:  New Sentence/Fishback v Commonwealth of VA and Sentencing Guideline Provision Amendment(s).
2016:  RIHD brought this issue to the attention of the 2015-16 Commission on Parole created
by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the commission in its final report issued a recommendation that it be corrected. Unfortunately,
several legislative attempts to correct this error failed in an extremely conservative General Assembly. Yet, during 2016 General
Assembly year.
2017 General Assembly Session:  SB825 for new sentence/Fishback v Commonwealth of VA passed in the full Senate for non-violent offenses only.  Then tabled to 2018 in the House Delegate.  Reportedly, Virginia Governor has instructed his staff to move forward in
the application to grant new sentences for persons with a non-violent offense (14 cases) eligible under the Fishback vs Commonwealth of Virginia ruling (June 9, 2000).  With much more work to do, RIHD has made it an issue that will not disappear. We plan to continue our outreach and educational campaign through the Mobile Justice Tour(s) working to ensure all 421 incarcerated Fishback vs Commonwealth defendants receive new sentences or allowed to plead to a lessor charge, and produce research and a more detailed data analysis of the racial disparities in those sentenced prior to Fishback v Commonwealth of Virginia (June 9, 2000)

RIHD has seen some successes to amend unfair Sentencing Guidelines during the 2016 and 2017 General Assembly, however, we will continue  working to educate lawmakers and policy advocates and communities on the need to do more, especially, with regards to Provision B violations, whereas, improper and racially-biased use of judicial discretion without explanation when judges go
outside the guidelines and the defendant's continue to be denied a "review and/or an appeal"   Defendants must be allowed the right to have their sentence reviewed and/or appealed when provision laws are violated.  It is inexusable that said injustices have been allowed to continue in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Though our efforts we seek to end the trend of mass incarceration in Virginia.  RIHD has joined JustleadershipUSA to help cut mass incarceration in half by 2030!




3.  RIHD need support.  We can’t do it alone.  We need your help.  If we are going to improve the effectiveness and fairness of our criminal justice system and make re entry easier/successful when they come home then we need to ask if you would make a generous and tax-deductible donation of $20, $50 or $100.  Some folks can’t budget that and instead have chosen to help up us out on a monthly basis.  You can give as little as five dollars a month for as long as you choose to do so.  Together we can change the face of mass incarceration.  Please support change that works.
 Thank you for your continuous support.
Legislative Contacts and Self Help Informational (Click on link)
1.  Va General Assembly: http://legis.virginia.gov/
2.  Who’s my State Legislator:   http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform
3.  How to track Va Legislation: http://legis.state.va.us/1_cit_guide/how_track.html
4.  How Bills Become Law:  http://legis.state.va.us/1_cit_guide/how_bills.html
5.  Tips for Testifying:  http://legis.state.va.us/1_cit_guide/tips_testify.html
6.  Governor:  www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm

RIHD Sentencing Reform Position Paper
RIHD “Mobile Justice Tour”
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What Is the MJT?  2013, RIHD founded the Mobile Justice Tour (MJT), now in its fifth year, an on-going tour that brings criminal justice reform advocates to various locations around the state where workshops are held to inform, train and encourage participants to work to reduce the level of societal disenfranchisement of the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and persons with a record in Virginia. 

Three (3) state level key initiatives 

--“Cut mass incarceration in half by 2030”—JLUSA.

--Sentencing reforms and re-instating a parole eligible system

-- Successful Reentry, Fairer hiring and housing process for persons with a record.  Statewide Ban-the-box Initiative
To eradicated lifetime disenfranchisement:  A Constitution Amendment for restoration of voting and civil rights

“Improving the effectiveness and fairness of Virginia’s criminal justice system” –RIHD
In 2009 Virginia prisoners and families called upon RIHD to help correct sentencing errors/injustice past and current that remain uncorrected.   
After introducing RIHD legislative position papers, in 2015 an executive order by Virginia Governor for a “Parole Review Commission” that concluded with adopting our call for correcting sentencing errors/injustice remedy recommendation.
RIHD is focus on correcting two key sentencing issues of the past that remain uncorrected and affect thousands of people currently in Virginia state prisons.  Though there are many legislative uncertainties, RIHD remains undaunted. 

What is “Ban-the-Box?”
Removing the criminal record question off initial employment application.  A movement that began many years ago by All of Us or None and Ordinary Peoples Society “to give formerly incarcerated people a better chance at getting a job, so they can provide for themselves and their families, and fully reenter society.

Movement in Virginia? A continuous movement, led by RIHD’s MJT and its coalition partners Good Seed Good Ground (Newport News), Bridging the Gap in Virginia (Richmond) were the first instrumental in successful passing Ban-the-Box in their municipality.  Since organizing and awareness tours various partnering grass-root have joined and successful help passed Ban-the-Box legislation in Virginia.  To date 22 Virginia municipalities; Virginia Governor signed state level Executive Order 41; private corporations include Targets, Bed/Bath & Beyond, Walmart and Koch Industries have join the MOVEMENT!  
 November 2, 2016 President Obama announced  measures to help promote rehabilitation and reintegration for persons with a record.
RIHD congratulate them all, however, our work is not complete, requiring additional work that reduce barriers and correct injustices.



An ongoing basis since 2006 and through the Mobile Justice Tour events, RIHD provides restoration of rights application and filing assistance to attendees. 
As advocates, (a non-partisan initiative) we supported the Governors executive orders that removed important barriers and fees, and restored over 200,000 Virginians civil and voting rights.   Still RIHD work to restore all 450,000 civil and voting rights remain incomplete. 
 Throughout RIHD MJT events, we shall continue to explain, answer questions, provide updates, process forms as well as discuss recommendations for further streamlining for automatically restoring ones right policies legislatively through  Constitutional Amendment process.

Mobile Justice Tour (MJT) goal is for a legislative Constitutional Amendment to eradicated the lifetime disenfranchisement for all disenfranchised Virginians with a record.