Bill repealing drug-related mandatory minimum sentences passes Virginia House 58-42

Posted at 12:18 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 12:22:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill repealing several mandatory minimum sentences on a vote of 58-42.

According to a release from Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News), who carried the bill, HB 2331 repeals mandatory minimums related to the possession of narcotics.

“Mandatory minimums are a relic of the failed War on Drugs. We cannot incarcerate our way out of addiction. It’s past time for us to do away with these arbitrary sentences,” Mullin said.

Mandatory minimums are associated with the growing costs of incarceration; documents released by the Virginia General Assembly show that the Commonwealth pays an average of $87.20 per day to keep someone incarcerated.

A 2020 report from the Virginia Department of Corrections also shows that Black inmates carry more mandatory minimum sentences than their white counterparts, causing social costs to communities of color.

“As a prosecutor, I’ve seen time and time again how mandatory minimums do more harm than good. We trust judges to make decisions, except when it comes to dealing with addiction. Then we tell them to put addicts in jail and throw away the key,” Mullin said. “We’ve made so much progress in reforming our justice system over the last year and this bill is a critical piece of that effort.”