Our society over-criminalizes and over-punishes. Our laws are enforced with racial disparity. We have work to do.
Legalize marijuana. Ben supports full legalization of marijuana and retroactive forgiveness for nonviolent marijuana offenses. Ben’s opponent, Senator Reeves, is one of the General Assembly’s most steadfast opponents of marijuana reform of any kind.
Against Mandatory Minimums. President Trump’s attorney general ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe possible punishments even for nonviolent drug offenders. Ben opposes mandatory minimums for any crime.
Prison reform. Ben believes that jail sentences should be reserved for serious, violent and repeat offenders only. Virginia spends over a billion dollars annually on its state prisons through the Department of Correction. The average cost for a state prisoner is $25000 a year. Medical services for the incarcerated is almost $200 million a year. That’s money that can go towards education and infrastructure.
Bring back parole. Too many of our fellow Virginians are in prison without hope. Let’s bring back and parole and couple it with career-training re-entry.
End incarceration for minors for all nonviolent crimes. No more school to prison pipeline. Stop teaching our kids to be criminals.
Raise the public defender limit.
Raise the larceny limit. In Virginia, stealing a $500 cell phone is felony grand larceny punishable by up to 20 years in prison, loss of voting rights, and near-unemployability. It should be a simple misdemeanor.
Pretrial release reform. Inmates can be held for months simply for being unable to afford a $100 bail. 46% of people in Virginia jails have not been convicted of a crime. It costs $85/day to jail someone before trial, versus only $3/day to keep them on pretrial services. We need transparent data on pretrial detention in Virginia. We need to end cash bail and implement risk-based pretrial release for violent offenders or those with a history of failing to show up to court, and eliminate pretrial detention altogether for offenders with no history of violence or fleeing prosecution.
Get rid of our private prison. Virginia has one private prison, the Lawrenceville Correctional Center. Let’s get rid of it. Ben does not support incarceration for profit.
Treatment not punishment for addicts. Correction officers are not mental health professionals. Addiction treatment for drug abusers is more humane and more cost-effective.
No revocation of driver’s licenses for non-driving-related crimes.
Police pay. Our law enforcement officers are the front-line soldiers of justice. But not only is their job high-stress and dangerous, they also end up shouldering the blame when the system fails. Ben proposes sweeping criminal justice reforms. But if we want to raise the standards of our system, then we need to recruit and train the best. And if we’re asking for the best, then we need to pay them like the best.