SUPPORT RIHD! Help pass “fair and commonsense” sentence reform laws. Please read, download, print and share with incarcerated persons, family, friends and your district state legislators.
Last week we launched an impromptu CALL TO ACTION to garner support for the Position Paper that RIHD submitted to Delegate Jennifer McClellan in regard to our advocacy for fair sentencing laws in Virginia. We knew from the start that the coming 2015 session of the General Assembly is an odd-year session; therefore, it would be a short one and each delegate would be allowed to present only a very limited number of bills. Yet we submitted the Position Paper to the delegate and asked that she consider introducing bills based on the content of the Paper. We did so under the constraint of time and circumstances because we deemed it so important that your voice be heard on this serious matter as soon as possible. She has heard your loud call for change, and she has answered.
We’ve been advised by the delegate that the issue is one that requires all the stake holders at the table because the change that we are fighting for is one that potentially may reduce the prison population. While we are happy to hear that the Position Paper has quickly gained the support of the Black Caucus of the Democratic Party, we acknowledged that that support alone would not get the bills passed in a House controlled by the Republicans. Accordingly, we agreed that we need more time to engage in a robust dialogue with Republican lawmakers to gain their support if we want any future bill she patrons to succeed. Simply put, we need more time and this coming short session of the General Assembly does not afford us that time. Moreover, a comprehensive research has to be done to determine exactly how many prisoners will be affected and released when the bills we propose become law.
The delegate is very encouraged and positively overwhelmed by your emails and calls to her office, and she will continue to work with us to achieve our goals.
Our organization has been researching and documenting unfair sentencing practices in Virginia since 2010. What happened in the past few days is a victory for us all because your efforts made fair sentencing in Virginia a prominent issue. Imagine what we can accomplish together in a few months? RIHD will engage and dialogue with our Republican lawmakers and friends in the weeks and months to come so that we can arrive at a bipartisan solution that will sail through the 2016 General Assembly session. As we progress, we will keep you informed and issue the necessary calls to action. Victory belongs to those who persevere!
Finally, RIHD thanks everyone who donated money and volunteered their time this year. We would not exist today without your unstinting support. Please note that we are a public charity (501(c)(3)); therefore, your donation of $25 plus is tax deductible. We need your support even more at this time because of the heavy workload and traveling ahead. Kindly send your donation to our address shown below or donate online at www.rihd.org.
Your humble servant,
Oludare Ogunde, Legislative Advocate
Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD)
RIHD, Inc. – PO Box 55 – Highland Springs – Virginia 2307