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VOICE Action Oct. 21 with
Governor Northam & Attorney General Herring
1,378 VOICE leaders from 55+ Northern VA institutions


BREAKING NEWS on cash bail reform:
VOICE leaders asked Attorney General Herring & Governor Northam to lead with VOICE on reforming the Virginia cash bail system, and they said, "Yes!"  On Oct. 22, Attorney General Herring released a legal memorandum outlining practical and constitutional concerns with the current system.  

Other commitments made by GOVERNOR NORTHAM were to lead with VOICE to:
1) DECREASE MASS INCARCERATION. Governor Northam committed to pull together a meeting with VOICE and key VA officials to begin strategizing on a bold plan to do so."There are far too many people in jail who shouldn't be there." He cited in particular those with opioid and mental health problems.

2) STOP SUSPENSION OF DRIVERS LICENSES for people with unpaid court debt. This disproportionately affects poor people and causes many to lose jobs when they are unable to drive to work. This currently effects 638,000 Virginians. Governor: "How are they supposed to pay the (court) fines if they can't get to work?"

3) PRIORITIZE FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH IN SCHOOLS. Governor acknowledged counselors' time is not well-spent on tasks like administering SOL testing. VOICE's goal: $90M to decrease school counselor to student ratio to 1:250 and ensure counselors can spend at least 80% of their time counseling.

4) AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The Governor acknowledged the need to increase funding for the state housing trust fund to enable development of affordable housing. Named teachers, first responders, school custodians, among others who struggle to afford housing, especially in NOVA, and said "Why should these individuals have to live up to two hours away" from work. Called housing trust fund "a very important tool in the toolbox." VOICE goal: $20M-25M.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING committed to work on cash bail reform and ALSO to work with VOICE and Metro IAF and attorneys general in other states in to be a roadblock to further efforts to separate immigrant families and instead to keep families together.

Recognition from the Governor:  "There is power in every one of you in this audience." Increase in felony threshold from $200-$500, dedicated funding package for Metro: "That was because of you."