Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged

Fighting to reverse the trend of mass incarceration and correcting sentencing bias and injustices that remain uncorrected in Virginia." -- Lillie Branch-Kennedy, Founder/Executive Director Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged & Disenfranchised (RIHD)

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Facts

The Earned Second Chance Provision offers Virginia communities a way to participate in making our communities safe.  At the center of our campaign is the idea of “Earned Second Chances,” where prisoners can get time taken off their sentence by participating in rigorous therapeutic and educational programs that prepare them for a productive life once they return to our communities.

We belive that the current criminal justice system:

  • Does not reduce crime
  • Does not prepare prisoners to be productive when they return to the community
  • Does not encourage citizens to help
  • Is not a wise investment of our taxes

The Department of Corrections is Virginia’s single largest agency, operating a budget of over a billion dollars.

Download the text of the Earned Second Chance Provision.

Legislation Focus:

Earned Second Chance – The focus on education and rehabilitative programs that include the Earned Second Chance legislation (The prisoner literacy, education, therapeutic, vocational rehabilitation with “earned” sentence credit allowance for over 30,000 persons incarcerated/sentenced on/after the January 1, 1995 abolition of parole): the Volunteerism Tax Deduction as well as a Focus on arts in the prison educational environment in order to provide tactile learning for those approximately fifty percent of inmates with specific learning disabilities. While we may not support the use of discretionary and often arbitrary parole, we do support a person’s ability to reduce their sentence through hard work and positive contributions into their community. Fair and consistent parole decisions.

Ban the Box – Starting with legislation focused on removing barriers to ex‐offender employment, including the ‘Ban the Box’ approach, the campaign will promote equal opportunity in employment as well as developing healthy relationships with employers. All persons should have the right to support themselves and their families without remaining forever reliant on government and community handouts.

Restoration of Civil Rights – A focus on a complete and automatic restoration of voting rights upon completion of a term of incarceration. While a ballot resolution could not be put forward this year, we should challenge the right of the government to tax a citizen at any time while he is unable to vote under the law. A government should not be able to tax a citizen who is not permitted a stake in his own destiny.

Opt Out of All Bans on Drug Offenders – This focus will include legislation to finally opt out of the TANF ban on formerly incarcerated person with drug offenses. In addition, since drug use and addiction is a medical and mental health issue, the campaign should stand against all bans that preclude former drug offenders from receiving any type of service, particularly when it has negative effects on their families. An ADA challenge might be made here. Government should not be allowed to punish individuals and their families for medical or mental health conditions.

Protecting Our Children – A multifaceted focus on keeping children in the juvenile system and not permitting unprotected transfers to adult court for a greater focus on restorative justice practices for youth. In addition, a focus on mentoring and protecting children from the constant influx of violence needs to be legitimately addressed. Children should be nurtured, and a government should not treat children as adults until they can determine that they are adequately prepared to be instilled with ALL the rights and responsibilities that come along with adulthood.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.