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Progressive Prosecutors Outline Justice Reform Priorities For Special Session

Lady justice

A group of Commonwealth’s Attorneys calling themselves “Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice” are promoting criminal justice reforms in the upcoming General Assembly Special Session. 

The group of 11 prosecutors this week sent a letter to legislative leaders outlining seven priorities. They include requiring officers serve arrest warrants during the daytime, ending mandatory six-month driver’s license suspensions for drug convictions and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. 

Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said lawmakers pushed many of these legislative proposals to next year, but that’s too late.  

“This is an opportunity for a real reset and for what we can call the new normal for the commonwealth of Virginia moving forward,” Taylor said. 

Last month, Senate Democrats in Virginia and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus outlined their criminal justice reform agendas for the special session.

“We agree with our legislative representatives that some of those concepts that may have been set aside for 2021 perhaps need to be reviewed...more quickly,” she said. 

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin did not sign the letter. In an email, McEachin told VPM that she supports some of the proposals but none of the signers asked her to join them. She said she backs ending driver’s license suspensions for drug charges and mandatory minimum sentences. And she supports the expanding deferred dispositions when a suspect meets certain conditions that can delay or divert their prosecution. She also agrees with the other prosecutors that commonwealth’s attorneys should be able to see the results of internal investigations into officer misconduct.