NAACP backs Webb push for criminal justice reform

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Is Virginia spending more money on prisons than education? The NAACP and the Virginia Education Association think so.

NAACP Members, church leaders and educators stood on the state capitol grounds this morning asking for support for the National Criminal Justice Act sponsored by Senator Jim Webb.

According to the NAACP, over the last twenty years, spending on Virginia prisons has increased four times faster than on higher education. It's a message now plastered to a moving billboard, you'll see around the city over the next three days.

"Our priorities are out of whack. I believe we need to take a look at re-prioritize and education should take precedents over prisons," said Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association.

The legislation would establish a commission to perform an 18 month study on the criminal justice system in America, possibly resulting in recommendations for reform.

Supporters say the US has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prison population.

"As Senator Webb has said, that means either one of two things. Either we have the most evil people on earth, or we have a criminal justice system that is fundamentally flawed and needs review," said Conaway Haskins, a staffer for Senator Webb.

The National Criminal Justice Act was passed by the House. The Senate could vote on it this fall.

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