Richmond, Virginia—At their meeting this morning, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB104, sponsored by Senator Joe Morrissey, which will eliminate mandatory minimums for nearly all crimes. The bill was passed and referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where we hope it will also pass.
“It’s great news that the Senate Judiciary Committee has continued its legacy from past sessions and passed SB104, which would eliminate mandatory minimums for nearly all crimes. Mandatory minimums disproportionately impact Black and Brown people and prevent judges from using their discretion in sentencing, so this is a move in a positive direction,” LaTwyla Mathias, Executive Director at Progress Virginia, said. “Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and mandatory minimums are a hindrance to making that a reality. We hope the Senate Finance Committee will vote to keep this bill moving forward so that no one has to live in fear of being unfairly targeted.”
In a report from 2020, the Virginia Crime Commission supported banning mandatory minimums.
- Mandatory minimums do not deter crime, but knowing you will be caught and punished quickly does.
- Black people are more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with sentences that carry a minimum sentence.
- Prosecutors are 65% more likely to charge Black defendants with crimes that come with a mandatory minimum sentence.
- Mandatory minimums result in sending people to prison even if that wouldn’t be necessary for public safety.