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Virginia’s criminal justice system should advance justice, treat people fairly, and promote rehabilitation. Too often, it does the opposite. When someone with a past criminal record faces lifelong obstacles to employment, housing, and opportunity, the system has failed. And when the appetite for revenue from court fines and fees criminalizes poverty, targets Black communities, and offends basic notions of equal protection under the law, the system again has failed us. But it does not have to be this way. Along with key partners, TCI has worked to abolish policies that lead to crushing court debt and supported efforts to provide people with a clean slate.

Together, we can decriminalize poverty and ensure everyone — no matter their race or wealth — has a fair chance to thrive.

Key priorities

  • Advocating for policy reforms to expand economic opportunity for the 1.6 million people in Virginia with a past criminal record.
  • Ending laws that punish poverty and exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal legal system.
  • Centering policy priorities in the needs of directly impacted communities and building diverse coalitions across Virginia to deliver change.
  • Publishing cutting-edge research and analysis that both informs and shapes policy reforms at the state and local level.
OUR WORK ON DECRIMINALIZING POVERTY

Questions?

Phil Hernandez 804-396-2051 phil@thecommonwealthinstitute.org

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