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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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2014 General Assembly: "Fair and Commonsense" Criminal Justice Laws

Sep 7, 2013 | by Nation Inside Team

Two important legislative initiatives requiring public awareness and support. We need your help getting these two bills re-introduced by your district state legislation.

Dear Members, Families, Friends & Allies,  During General Assembly 2011, two vital bills that would reduce crime, reduce recidivism, help end mass incarceration without jeopardizing public safety in Virginia, was left in committee due to lack of public support.  Lack of support stems from an un-informed  public.  We beleive once you (the public) become aware of the below two proposed legislation that failed in 2011, you will become proactive asking your district state legislators to patron, co-patron and support with a yea vote.

The time is now to be proactive communicating with your district legislators.  We must not wait until late December or during the 2014 General Assembly session to let our elected officials know our concerns, support and opposition.  So, here’s what we are proposing.  1) That you read the below two legislative proposals.  2) Follow our advocacy request stated below  3) Stay in touch, keep RIHD updated and attend upcoming monthly meetings in Richmond and/or attend upcoming Mobile Justice Tour meetings (August to October) and follow-ups (November).

Help heal families and restore communities, through “earned” second chance initiatives.

2011 SESSION SENATE BILL NO. 796

BILL to amend and reenact § 53.1-202.2 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Article 4 of Chapter 6 of Title 53.1 a section numbered 53.1-202.5, relating to rehabilitative programming; earned sentence credits. ———-

Patrons– Locke; Delegates: Carr and Pogge –                                                                                                                                              ———Referred to Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 53.1-202.2 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Article 4 of Chapter 6 of Title 53.1 a section numbered 53.1-202.5 as follows: § 53.1-202.2. Eligibility for earned sentence credits. A. Every person who is convicted of a felony offense committed on or after January 1, 1995, and who is sentenced to serve a term of incarceration in a state or local correctional facility shall be eligible to earn sentence credits in the manner prescribed by this article. Such eligibility shall commence upon the person’s incarceration in any correctional facility following entry of a final order of conviction by the committing court. As used in this chapter, “sentence credit” and “earned sentence credit” mean deductions from a person’s term of confinement earned through adherence to rules prescribed pursuant to § 53.1-25, through program participation as required by §§ 53.1-32.1 and,53.1-202.3, and 53.1-202.5, and by meeting such other requirements as may be established by law or regulation. One earned sentence credit shall equal a deduction of one day from a person’s term of incarceration.

B. A juvenile convicted as an adult and sentenced as a serious juvenile offender under clause (i) of subdivision A 1 of § 16.1-272 shall be eligible to earn sentence credits for the portion of the sentence served with the Department of Juvenile Justice in the manner prescribed by this article. Consideration for earned sentence credits shall require adherence to the facility’s rules and the juvenile’s progress toward treatment goals and objectives while sentenced as a serious juvenile offender under § 16.1-285.1.

§ 53.1-202.5. Rate at which sentence credits may be earned for rehabilitative programming; prerequisites. Ten additional sentence credits may be earned for each 30 days of rehabilitative programming. The earning of these sentence credits shall be conditioned upon full and satisfactory participation in programs for earning a high school diploma or an equivalent degree, college credit, or a certification through an accredited vocational training program or other accredited continuing education program. Credit shall also be given based on equivalent interventional rehabilitation programs completion, including but not limited to mental health treatment, sex offender treatment, and any other interventional rehabilitation programs deemed appropriate for this credit by the Director. Qualified individuals who conduct or teach such programs without other compensation shall also be eligible for such credits.

Credit that has not been earned may not later be granted. Credit for the last year or portion of a year of the term of imprisonment shall be prorated and credited within the last six weeks of the sentence. Credit awarded under this section shall vest on the last day of each calendar year or upon full completion of the included program and may be denied based upon removal from any included program for noncompliance with program requirements or institutional rules.

Exemptions to the General Educational Development requirement may be made as deemed appropriate based upon the determination and recommendation of Department of Correctional Education personnel. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no portion of any sentence credits earned shall be applied to reduce the period of time a person must serve before becoming eligible for parole upon any sentence. (This passage is for parole eligible prisoners – old law)

CURRENT STATUS: Failed to pass out of Committee

To view full bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+ful+SB796
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2011 SESSION HB 2127

Income tax, state; deduction for certain volunteer services.

Introduced by: Jennifer L. McClellan |

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED: Item #14  Income tax; deduction for certain volunteer services. Allows a deduction of $1,500 when determining Virginia taxable income for professional services provided by mental health professionals and educators who volunteer with inmate programs in the Departments of Corrections, Correctional Education or Social Services, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2012. 02/08/11

CURRENT STATUS:  House: Left in Finance- Status of Bill: Failed to pass out of Committee

View Copy of the entire bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=111&typ=bil&val=HB2127

ADVOCACY TIPS/HELP GUIDE

Read, Read, Read each proposed bills in their entirety.
Develop and write down talking points why you support the passing of both proposed bills.
Reach out to family, friends and the community asking their support for the proposed bills.
Everyone reach out to their DISTRICT STATE LEGISLATORS (Senator and House Delegate) in support of both proposed bills. Make an appointment or send a certified letter

Who’s my legislator:   http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/VGAMain?openform

Tips on Talking with Your Legislators
http://virginia-organizing.org/sites/default/files/Organizing%20Toolbox%202002.pdf

 Be personal. Tell how your concerns about a piece of legislation relate to your personal situation, your neighbors or people you know. Also, let them know quickly if you live in his/her legislative district.

 Let them know you are part of an organizational effort. (RIHD, Virginia Organizing, PAFERJ, MJT) Effective groups can get a lot done and most legislators pay more attention to strong organizations than they do one or two individuals.

 Do some homework. Try to know the basics of the legislation you are talking about; think about what points you want to make; think about what arguments are probably going to be brought up against your point of view. Connect the talking points of your issue to your personal story.

 Be focused. Stay on the subject you’re concerned about. Don’t stray, and don’t let the legislator change the subject. Be polite, but firm!

 Don’t be argumentative. Even if it would make you feel good, little is gained by badgering a legislator or getting into a verbal fight. Persuasion is the key — firmly press home your points and your needs, reminding the legislator how it personally affects you.

 Don’t be defensive. Legislators may make some critical remarks about your position or ask some tough questions. Give them solid information on your position to make your points more credible. Keep in mind that the legislative process often involves compromises, but you always have a right to be part of the process. Your situation and your needs are important. That attitude will keep you stating those needs and problems firmly, not defensively.

 Don’t stay too long, don’t be rude or threatening, don’t make an enemy. You need to establish a long-term relationship with the legislator. Even if you disagree on an issue, you may find that he/she will work with you on another issue later.

 Get a commitment. The goal is to enlist the legislator’s support, so be specific. “Will you vote for this bill in committee?” “Will you help us keep the stronger sections in the bill when it gets to the Senate floor?” Ask the question directly and try to get a direct answer!

 Be optimistic and upbeat. Legislators are quick to pick up the personal energy that goes with citizen lobbying efforts.

 Follow up promptly. Send a thank you note and anything else you promised to send.   KEEP RIHD, INC. INFORMED & UPDATED

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” –Margaret Mead

Information Shared/Provided by:

R.I.H.D., Inc. – PO Box 55 Highland Springs – Virginia 23075

Website: www.rihd.org  Email: rihd23075@aol.com

Telephone/Text:  (804) 426-4426

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