RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is calling for legislators in the House of Delegates to put an end to mandatory jury sentencing by supporting SB 5007.
The VSC says that Virginia is one of only two states nationwide that requires juries to hand down sentences when a defendant has a jury trial.
The result is that defendants may be faced with only incarceration or high fines since juries don’t have the same sentencing options as judges.
“Research shows that, as a whole, prosecutors are less likely to offer favorable plea bargains to Black and Brown people accused of crimes. These unfair plea bargains contribute to the vast racial and economic disparities in Virginia’s criminal justice system and force primarily Black and Brown people into pleading to disproportionately long sentences or even pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” NAACP officials said in a statement released Friday.
“The VSC NAACP has long advocated in our units across the Commonwealth, needed changes to make out criminal justice system work for everyone regardless of race or socio-economic status. Passing SB 500 will alleviate the imbalance of power that forces defendants to take plea bargains. This will have a positive impact on those within the criminal justice system.”
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