Institute Contends Virginia Incarcerates Too Many Non-Violent Defendants


The Justice Policy Institute, an advocacy group seeking to reduce the use of incarceration, has issued a report charging that Virginia’s criminal justice ystem is “expensive, ineffective and unfair.” The institute contends that the state’s “truth in sentencing” laws dating from in the 1990s have not reduced crime or recidivism and that “Virginia's aggressive stance on arresting people for drug violations has had no effect on reducing drug use, which has increased in recent years.”

The report says that Virginia has the eighth highest U.S. jail incarceration rate and that the state spends about $1.5 billion annually on jails and prisons, much of it used to lock up defendents who commit non-violent and drug offenses. Those cateories were said to constitute two-thirds of the state’s prison and jail populations. Institute director Marc Schindler suggested incarcerating fewer non-violent criminals and using the money saved for education and crime prevention.

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