Sat., Jan. 12, at Richmond’s Capitol Square
Hundreds of people including former prisoners, their family members and supporters are expected to attend the 2nd Annual Virginia Prison Reform Rally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 12, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Bell Tower on Richmond’s Capitol Square. As of Jan. 7, more than 1,200 people have indicated interest on the Facebook event page. (“2nd Annual Virginia Prison Reform Rally”)
This event is a statewide collaboration of the many organizations that have joined together through the Virginia Prison Justice Network to create a greater voice for incarcerated individuals and their family members who still remain victimized by unjust laws and policies. The rally will feature statements from Virginia prisoners and remarks by former prisoners and family members. Also speaking will be representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and the prisoner advocacy organization R.I.H.D. The rally will be interpreted for the deaf.
The first goal of the rally is to call attention to the many injustices that exist within prisons and the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second goal is to garner support for bills to be presented to the 2019 session of the Virginia General Assembly which would correct these long-overdue inequities.
The major areas of concern include:
Restoring Parole – Virginia ended it in 1995, one of just 16 states to do so.
Abolishing Solitary Confinement – The Virginia Department of Corrections denies that it still uses this barbaric practice, but in fact it has just reclassified it as “restrictive housing.”
Addressing the “Fishback” cases – Starting in 1995, Virginia juries were not told that parole had been abolished and so continued to impose long sentences, thinking they would later be reduced. The practice continued until 2000, when the courts issued the Richard Fishback v. Commonwealth decision. Today some 300 prisoners sentenced between 1995 and 2000 remain caught in this sentencing trap.
The Jan. 12 rally was initiated by the Virginia Prison Justice Network and has been endorsed by the following organizations:
American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia – Bridging the Gap in Virginia – Coalition for Justice (Blacksburg) – House of Dreams Outreach & ReEntry of Hampton Roads – Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR) – Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged & Disenfranchised (RIHD) – Roanoke Jail Solidarity – Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality – Virginia Prisoner of Conscience – Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee
For more information, contact the Virginia Prison Justice Network at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Virginia Prison Justice Network is a prisoner-led network that grew out of the first Prison & Justice Reform Rally attended by more than 300 people on Jan. 20, 2018, at Richmond’s Capitol Square. The VAPJN now has a website (https://vapjn.wordpress.com) and a printed newsletter that reaches hundreds of Virginia prisoners. It has sponsored local Speak-Outs for Prison Justice in Hampton, Richmond and Roanoke, supported prisoner-activists facing repression for their activism and developed a coordinated plan to address legislation in the 2019 Virginia General Assembly.