NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Community leaders from across Hampton Roads have given Senator Tim Kaine several ideas for policy reform when it comes to helping felons re-enter society upon their release from prison.
The meeting Friday at Up Center Books in Ghent was the second of Kaine’s two round table discussions on the topic, after a meeting Thursday with several ex-offenders in Richmond.
Kaine heard the need for more emphasis and better resources for programs for ex-offenders that involve crucial needs and skills, housing, transportation to work, medical and mental health care, portable medical information that could be shared among different correctional facilities, and computer skills for use in the job search.
Kaine says the political climate is favorable right now for criminal justice reform. “Now, you do see a real bipartisan thought that ‘Why does the United States incarcerate more people than any other people per capita?'”
The discussion included Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Junius Fulton, Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales, along with representatives from the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office, Children’s Services, and several workforce training and mental health programs.
Kaine says policies of the past three decades, such as mandatory federal minimum sentences and three strikes and you’re out, have left the country with too many people behind bars.
Up Center advocates for children’s safety, responsible parenting, and finding community resources for the disabled and people in crisis.