Mass incarceration is a serious issue in the United States that negatively impacts families and communities. The criminal justice system disproportionately impacts the poor and is rooted in our country’s history of racism and white supremacy.
VICPP is committed to working towards criminal justice reform that ends mass incarceration, dismantles the prison industry complex, ceases the use of solitary confinement, and abolishes the death penalty, the last of which we are able to achieve in 2020. We seek to create a justice system in Virginia that is compassionate, cost-effective and equitable.
According to the Virginia Department of Corrections’ own numbers, more than 7,000 people incarcerated in Virginia prisons were placed in solitary confinement units known as “restrictive housing” at some point between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. That number does not include people placed in solitary confinement conditions through other types of housing units in Virginia prisons, let alone Virginia jails or juvenile detention facilities. Solitary confinement is the isolation of a person in a jail or prison cell for all or nearly all day with little environmental stimulation or opportunity for human interaction. Solitary confinement in Virginia is considered 20 hours per day in isolation away from the rest of the prison population for adults, and 17 hours a day for juvenile offenders.
Pretrial Justice Reform
In Virginia, a “secured bond” or “cash bail” is utilized for a majority of offenses including misdemeanors. This creates an unfair economic burden on people, many who are innocent, who end up spending time incarcerated because they are unable to pay. The pre-trial detention rate in Virginia is higher than the national average. This issue disproportionately impacts African Americans in the Commonwealth; African Americans make up 20 percent of the state population and account for 43 percent of those incarcerated pre-trial. We partner with a coalition to examine how Virginia can change its laws to treat all those who live here with justice.
Death Penalty Abolition
After years of advocacy and partnership with Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, we were a key part of abolishing the death penalty in Virginia in 2021! Virginia has executed more people in history than any other state in history, and this punishment was deeply linked to racism and injustice. This victory is a first step in moving toward a "justice system" worthy of the name.