The ACLU of Virginia is committed to helping the Commonwealth re-envision a criminal justice system that is fair and free of racial bias, keeps our communities safe, and respects the rights of all who come into contact with it.
Because of the “War on Drugs” and the “tough on crime” policies of the 1980s and 1990s, Virginia’s prisons and jails witnessed tremendous growth. Our correctional facilities are bursting at the seams with nonviolent offenders, individuals with mental illness, elderly, children charged as adults, and those with drug addiction in need of treatment. Further, the resurgence of debtors’ prisons has put thousands in jail for being too poor to pay fines for traffic tickets or other minor misdemeanors.
Fortunately, policy makers have begun to realize the widespread harm that overincarceration has inflicted on our communities. The ACLU of Virginia is collaborating with conservatives and progressives alike to push for thoughtful policies that not only to stem the flow of people into prisons, but also to shrink the number of people inside prisons.
We are working to reform our criminal justice system by advocating for sensible drug policies and sentencing laws, limiting the use of force by law enforcement, improving the efficacy of criminal defense, and identifying alternatives to the harsh penal system.
Did you know?
● Since 1970, there has been a 735% increase in Virginia’s prison population.
● A December 2015 poll conducted by Prison Fellowship and the Charles Koch Institute found that 75% of Virginians believe that prisons ought to prioritize rehabilitation, and 72% of Virginians believe judges should have more freedom to use forms of punishment other than prison.