City and county attorneys, CPD Chief Brackney calling for end to extreme sentencing

Genesee County Jail.
Genesee County Jail.
Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 8:46 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - City and county commonwealth attorneys, as well as Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney, are demanding an end to extremely long prison sentences, saying it does not prevent crime or keep people safe.

“These extended sentences are not just and are often times inhumane,” Chief Brackney explained. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t set parameters for violent offenders or those persons who have not willingly entered into a rehabilitative process, but it does say that we take a new look at, with a different lens, the way we dole out punishment.”

Chief Brackney and commonwealth attorneys Joseph Platania and Jim Hingeley are asking policy makers to rewrite the rules about extreme prison sentencing, saying an end to longer sentences would help address the nation’s mass incarceration crisis.

“It’s just wrong to keep people in jails or prisons past the time when a sentence is accomplishing anything, either in terms of the rehabilitation of the defender or in terms of public safety,” Hingeley said.

Brackney said individuals who reach a certain age are less likely to enter back into the criminal justice system, especially those who are non-violent offenders.

“Studies have shown that by the time a person is in their 40s, they’re less likely to reoffend, yet we keep people incarcerated for decades on end, often based on laws that were skewed as to who they impacted or who they affected.”

Ending longer sentences would mean less people in the prison system for long periods of time, which could save tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Tax payers are spending, wasting money, if you will, on jails or prisons that could be put to better use in the community,” Hingeley said.

Ending minimum sentencing mandates, reinstating parole and requiring sentencing review are several things, Hingeley said, that would reduce the number of individuals who receive extremely long sentences.

“What we are suggesting is that senior level prosecutors review any prosecutor’s request for sentences that might exceed say 15 or 20 years so you have some level of review that’s built into the process to ensure that if you’re going to have that length of sentence that is really appropriate,” Hingely said.

Both him and Brackney agreed that it would allow individuals to have a second chance.

“People who were in jail for excessive sentences, can come back, can come safely back to the community,” Hingeley said.

“A more just society is one in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We just have to give them pathways and personal agency to do that,” Brackney said. “This is one way to do that. It is very difficult to do that in a 6x10 cell to realize your full potential.”

Hingeley said mandatory minimum sentencing was almost abolished during the general assembly this year. He said it will likely be revisited next year.

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