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Virginia’s Corrections Budget Goes Over a Billion Dollars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   CONTACT: ZERLINE HUGHES                                     July 1, 2014                                                                  202.558.7974 X 308                                                                                                                               202.320.1029

Commonwealth’s Flawed Justice System Priorities Wasting Precious Resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite a recent report demonstrating a flawed justice system and skewed fiscal priorities, Virginia’s budget going into effect on July 1st includes over a billion dollars in general funds for the commonwealth’s corrections spending.

According to Billion Dollar Divide Virginia’s Sentencing, Corrections and Criminal Justice Challenge, a recently released report by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), while other states are successfully reforming their sentencing laws, parole policies and drug laws, Virginia is lagging behind and spending significant funds that could be used more effectively to benefit public safety in the commonwealth.

Approximately 80 percent of the corrections budget is being spent on incarcerating people in secure facilities, while only about 10 percent of the budget is spent on supervising people in the community.  Other states have a better balance between prison spending, and supporting individuals in the community.

Billion Dollar Divide, the second in a series of JPI reports analyzing Virginia’s criminal justice priorities, describes challenges facing Virginia’s sentencing, corrections and criminal justice system, including:

With the commonwealth spending over a billion general fund dollars on corrections, policymakers in Richmond should be scrutinizing current policies regarding sentencing, corrections spending and criminal justice policy, particularly as the state faces a budget shortfall.

“With Virginia now facing a budget shortfall, and having also failed to access Medicaid expansion funding, the commonwealth can't afford to spend over a billion dollars on flawed corrections policies," said Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute.

Several legislative bills failed 2014 that would have saved Virginia millions of dollars in corrections spending, spanning the domain of sentencing reform, earned release for people convicted of drug offenses, and parole reform.

To read Billion Dollar Divide: Virginia's Sentencing, Corrections and Criminal Justice Challenge, CLICK HERE. To read the first in the report series, Virginia’s Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair, CLICK HERE. For additional information, please contact Zerline Hughes at zhughes@justicepolicy.org.

The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C., is working to reduce the use of incarceration and the justice system and promote policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities. For more JPI briefs on the criminal justice system, visit www.justicepolicy.org.

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