The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP pushes to eliminate mandatory jury sentencing

Virginia – The Virginia State Conference (VSC) of the NAACP is asking the House of Delegates to support Senate Bill 5007 which would eliminate mandatory jury sentencing in Virginia.

“There is a disparity in judges doing sentencing and juries doing sentences,” President of the VSC, Robert Barnette said.

Barnette said they want jurors to have the same opportunities as judges. Juries follow guidelines in sentencing and are not able to lower sentences. Defendants then choose between a fine or incarceration. The VSC claims, as a whole, prosecutors are generally less likely to offer favorable plea agreements to Black and Brown communities.

“Our democracy depends on everyone receiving a fair shake. I often look at the justice symbol with the lady with the blind fold and again, it shouldn’t depend on race, it shouldn’t depend on what ethnic background you are associated with,” Barnette said.

Barnette said they are also trying to limit the power prosecuting attorneys have and that the goal is to have the bill passed and moved on to the governor’s desk.

Marco Harmon

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA. I studied Communications Studies at Roanoke College, and I’ve been part of the news industry ever since. Visiting my favorite downtown Roanoke bars and restaurants with my friends is how I spend most of my free time when I'm not at the desk.

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