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AFP-VA Highlights Public Safety Bill Wins as General Assembly Concludes    

Mar 18, 2024 by AFP

Richmond, VA – With the 2024 General Assembly coming to a conclusion, Americans for Prosperity-Virginia (AFP-VA) is highlighting four public safety bills their organization supports that passed both chambers:

“These bills advance common-sense, bipartisan policies to improve public safety and we hope the Governor signs them,” said C.J. Sailor, AFP-VA State Director.

See below for the four public safety bills AFP-VA supports that passed both chambers during the 2024 General Assembly:

Earned Compliance Credits HB 457: We believe a system that encourages healthy reentry into society best serves communities and sets everyone up for success. The ability to earn time off probation is a substantial motivator and research shows that incentives are more effective at encouraging compliance than sanctions. This bill creates criteria for a court to reduce a probation period, through educational activities, maintaining verifiable employment, and completing a mental health or substance abuse program. People are driven by incentives and building a system that properly incentivizes them to reintegrate decreases recidivism drastically.

Ombudsman Codification HB555 / SB456: Lawsuits against the Department of Corrections are out of control. Overdoses, deaths, ongoing issues reported by correctional officers and loved ones of incarcerated individuals is costing Virginia taxpayers millions more each year without remedying internal problems that are the source of higher costs. The DOC budget has ballooned drastically even while the prison population has shrunk. This bill codifies the 2023 budget amendment for an independent ombudsman who can investigate complaints and provide reform recommendations to the DOC and the General Assembly – ensuring a wiser use of taxpayer dollars and building the integrity of the DOC.

Tech Surveillance Study Review HB1496: This bill will, effectively, audit all use of surveillance technology deployed at the state and local level. The purpose of this is to create a registry so citizens know how they are being watched and inform lawmakers of what – if any – regulatory and legislative proposals are necessary to preserve civil liberties – while still permitting the technology to be leveraged in emergency situations.

Fair Market Communications in Prisons HB801: This bill ensures DOC contracts are made at fair market value. Presently, Virginia tax payers are paying inflated rates to speak with their incarcerated loved ones. Under the Trump administration, FCC Chair Ajit Pai called on states to address the “egregiously high intrastate calling rates.” Multiple states have responded to reform these rates and once Gov. Youngkin signs this bill, Virginia will be next.