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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Welcoming the 4th Statewide Mobile Justice Tour (MJT) - Join Us

Aug 18, 2015 | by admin

Statewide Mobile Justice Tour Looks to Help Returning Citizens Become Voters and Highlight Importance of Sentencing Reforms as Key Part of Parole Discussion.

Statewide Mobile Justice Tour Looks to Help Returning Citizens Become Voters and Highlight Importance of Sentencing Reforms as Key Part of Parole Discussion
Virginia – Major problems with Virginia’s system of incarceration and reentry for returning citizens could loom larger than life as the state moves towards November elections and the presidential election in 2016. Currently there are over 450,000 formerly incarcerated citizens who have not regained their full civil rights which include the right to vote. According to Lillie Branch –Kennedy, executive director of Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD), incarceration shouldn’t mean a lifetime of disenfranchisement or voiding a person’s civil rights.
“Returning citizens who’ve done their time, have the same right to vote as any other citizen,” said Branch-Kennedy. “Governor (Terry) McAuliffe has eased some of the barriers to regaining ones rights, but our job is pushing to make those changes permanent as well as making sure those who are disenfranchised are aware of these changes and understand the process for restoring their rights,” she added.
Educating and engaging the formerly incarcerated as well as their families and other advocates on the restoration of rights process, the need for sentencing and parole reform and a statewide movement to “ban the box” are the staple issues the 4th Mobile Justice Tour plans to address.
The tour will kick off Tuesday, August 18th at the Richmond East End Library from 5:45 pm -7:45 pm (1200 North 25th street) and Wed. evening, Aug. 19th in Charlottesville at the Charlottesville Library on East Street at 6:30. (See below for schedule)
“Our goal is to bring information and resources to empower people in their communities around the state,” said Rich Walker, founder of Bridging the Gap, a local group that helps returning citizens with the reentry process”.
According to Walker, previous responses to the tour by communities has been inspiring. “Throughout our stops in city after city, we find so many people were simply unaware of laws and policies that can empower them. From the new process for automatic voting rights restoration, to the statewide momentum toward ‘ban the box’ employment application reforms, folks had no idea about available alternatives for changing their lives.  The MJT empowered people just by providing the information, and we look forward to hitting the road again,” said Walker.
At each stop of the tour, legal and policy experts will discuss:
1.      Sentencing Reforms:  To correct and/or amend sentencing injustices that remain uncorrected.  Correcting the injustice of five years of unfair jury trials system.
·       Use of Discretionary Sentencing Guidelines
·      To eliminate disparities and achieve consistency and fairness within the Virginia criminal justice
2.      “Ban the Box” Removing the question about an individual’s criminal history from the initial employment application continues:  Since the first Mobile Justice Tour, 14 Virginia municipalities have passed fair-chance hiring regulations for persons with a record. We congratulate them all, however, there’s many more Virginia municipalities/local government areas to visit.   The MJT team will continue to advocate throughout Virginia for local level governments and business to “Ban-the-box” and reduce barriers that prevent our community members from finding work.
 3.      Restoration of Rights:  With over 300,000 disenfranchised Virginians with felony conviction, there are two ways to get their rights back, depending on whether one’s conviction is classified as “nonviolent” or “violent.”  MJT partner Bridging the Gap in Virginia will continue his “campaign to restore “100,000” individual’s rights prior to the end of the current Governor’s administration (a non-partisan initiative).  Bridging the Gap will explain, answer questions, provide updates, process forms as well as discuss recommendations for further streamlining these policies (e.g. Constitutional Amendment)
Host organizations for the Mobile Justice Tour include (RIHD), Bridging the Gap in Virginia, Mothers on Mission, New Virginia Majority as well as dozens of local groups from cities on the tour. The tour is largely fueled by ordinary citizens – college students, members of church groups and other individuals across Virginia – who requested additional stops in the cities.
“The fact that African Americans are only 20 percent of the population but over 60 percent of those incarcerated means that a big part of justice in Virginia is in part addressing the racial disparities” said Quan Williams, policy associate at New Virginia Majority, a group working to engage and mobilize low-income, communities of color into progressive voting blocs.
“The MJT is doing work on the frontlines to usher Virginia into a more just democracy and while we applaud the work that the governor, Secretary of State Levar Stoney, Rep. Bobby Scott and others are doing to help reform the prison system, we also recognize that the true power for reform lays in the hands of the people – and this is the message we are bringing to them,” added Williams.
The 4th Mobile Justice Tour stops include (All Events Free and Open to the Public):
AUGUST
Kickoff: Aug. 18th, 5:45 pm -7:45 pm
Richmond East End Library
Richmond, VA 23223
Charlottesville Library: Aug. 19th 6:30 -8:45 pm
201 East Market Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Petersburg Main Library: Aug. 22 2 pm – 4:45 pm
201 West Washington Street
Petersburg, VA 23803
Williamsburg Regional Library: Aug. 27, 6 pm – 9 pm
515 Scotland Street
Williamsburg, VA 23188
SEPTEMBER
Lynchburg MLK Jr. Library: Sept. 10, 6 pm- 8 pm
2315 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24501
Harrisonburg Main Street Library: Sept. 17th, 6 pm – 8pm
174 South Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Hampton Main Library: Sept. 23rd, 6 pm – 8:30 pm
4207 Victory Boulevard
Hampton, VA 23669
OCTOBER
Crew Library: Oct. 3rd, 6 pm – 8 pm
400 Tyler Street
Crewe, VA 23930
Gethsemane Community Fellowship Baptist Church: Oct. 16th, 6 pm – 8pm
1317 East Brambleton Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23504
*Calendar will be updated periodically and scheduled to run through December.
For more information and latest news, visit  http://nationinside.org/campaign/mobile-justice-tour/ and follow @VA_MJT
For Media: Contact Malik Russell (703) 589-0856
mrussell@newvirginiamajority.org
Lillie Branch-Kennedy
Founder/Executive Director
RIHD, Inc. – PO Box 55 – Highland Springs – Virginia 23075
(804) 426-4426   Email:  rihd23075@aol.com
http://www.rihd.org
 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
— Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr.