Wise Co. commonwealth’s attorney speaks out against Virginia Governor’s proposed agenda on criminal justice reform


WISE, Va. (WJHL)- Following Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement of a bold criminal justice reform agenda on Friday, one community leader in Southwest Virginia is speaking out.

Chuck Slemp, the Commonwealth Attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton, posted a Facebook post on Friday evening voicing his concerns about the Governor’s proposed agenda.

Slemp sat down with News Channel 11 and said that he doesn’t disagree with “smart criminal justice reform” but he does think that the Governor’s plan needs more work.

“I’m worried that by rushing to make political points, that he is making our state less safe, and are putting our citizens at risk,” said Chuck Slemp, Commonwealth Attorney for Wise County & the City of Norton.

One of the main concerns Slemp said he has about the agenda is in regard to the consideration of parole, a topic that has been off the table since 1995. He said that considering parole for convicted felons would pose a threat to community members and the victims in these cases.

“It took away the guesswork and the anxiety of victims that would say well I know a court said 20 years but they’ll be back on the street next year. That’s not fair to victims,” said Slemp.

The governor’s agenda also touched on the de-criminalization of marijuana possession, and in turn, introduces a civil fine for the offense which Slemp also shared his opinion on.

MORE: Northam proposes sweeping criminal justice reforms

“Blanket decriminalization without further study is probably a mistake. There needs to be restrictions, there needs to be taxes, there needs to be other protections for the citizens that when you get marijuana that it is safe to consume,” he said.

Additional topics in the Governor’s agenda include raising the felony larceny threshold, raising the age of juvenile transfer to adult court, and the permanent elimination of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines, fees, and court costs.

To read the full details on Governor Northam’s criminal justice reform proposals, click below.

The governor’s proposed criminal justice reform agenda will be for the 2020 general assembly session which begins on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Wise County commonwealth’s attorney concerned about Gov. Northam’s ‘radical’ criminal justice reform agenda

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