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On the first day of the 2023 legislative session, the Criminal Law Reform Coalition concluded its “Leading for Justice: Criminal Law Reform Summit” with a legislative breakfast and collective day of action at the State Capitol. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate and take members of the faith community and justice impacted people, and peer recovery coaches from WV Peers, around the Capitol to share their stories and advocate for need policy changes, including:
- Restored voting rights for people on probation and parole;
- Expanded transitional housing for people leaving incarceration;
- Automatic expungement for qualifying criminal records;
- Ending re-incarceration for technical violations and;
- Increased community diversion to mental health care and treatment for substance use disorder.
See the press release below from the Criminal Law Reform Coalition to learn more about the inspiring speakers and the issues raised at the breakfast and summit.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2023
Contact: Lida Shepherd (304) 356-8428
WV CRIMINAL LAW REFORM COALITION HOSTS ADVOCACY DAY AT CAPITOL
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Wednesday, January 11th, the West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition, a group of West Virginia-based organizations partnering in pursuit of systemic changes to the state’s criminal legal system, hosted a “Leading for Justice” legislative breakfast and day of action to bring awareness to the issues constituents hope to see addressed during the 2023 legislative session.
At the breakfast, attendees heard from advocates who have been personally impacted by the criminal justice system in a significant way, as well as from legislators from both sides of the aisle.
Amber Blankenship from Logan County who works with the WV REACH Initiative was an emcee of the event. “The mountain of county jail bill debt and the fiscal and human costs of our criminal legal system will continue if our policies aren’t changed,” said Blankenship, “and this legislature has an opportunity to safely reduce incarceration and improve people’s chances of becoming productive, tax-paying citizens.”
Another speaker was Danni Dineen who works with the City of Charleston’s Quick Response Team. Dineen spoke about the need to reform our capias laws, saying, “I don’t want to see another person go through what I went through all because they missed a court date .Ask yourselves at what point will it be unacceptable to arrest and jail people when they didn’t even commit a new crime? I urge all of you to jump into the action to reform our capias laws.”
Danny Murphy with Right on Crime told attendees, “The compassionate rehabilitation of non-violent offenders and promoting re-entry of former offenders to the workforce is a critical component to stopping the cycle of criminality in West Virginia. I look forward to working with legislators in reducing barriers to re-entry for reformed offenders, incentivizing post-incarceration compliance, and implementing cost-efficient reforms to our criminal justice systems.”
The coalition urges the state’s legislators to take immediate action on the issues raised at the breakfast.
View the FB Livestream here: https://www.facebook.com/WVCLRC
The West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition is a group of West Virginia-based organizations partnering in pursuit of systemic changes to the state’s criminal legal system. Partners include the American Friends Service Committee, Appalachian Prison Book Project, Jefferson County WV NAACP, Mountain State Justice, NAACP-WV, WV Center on Budget and Policy, WV Council of Churches, WV Family of Convicted People, and WV Reentry Councils.