Bill to End Mandatory Minimum Sentences Blocked by Virginia Senate Committee

by Tyler Arnold


Legislation that would have banned the enforcement of mandatory minimum sentencing in Virginia was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday after some Democrats joined Republicans in their opposition.

Senate Bill 5046, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, effectively would have ended all mandatory minimums in Virginia by halting their enforcement for offenses committed on or after Jan. 1, 2021. Although reforming mandatory minimum laws has bipartisan support, SB 5046 did not provide exemptions for violent crimes, such as murder or rape, which led to it ultimately failing.

Voicing opposition to the bill, Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, criticized it for painting a broad brush. He asked why there were not any exemptions for the most serious of crimes, such as the rape of a child.

One woman provided testimony against the bill, citing the murder of her husband as an example.

Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, defended the bill, arguing that when lawmakers begin to add exceptions, they will never stop.

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, said a special session is probably not the best way to advance this legislation.

The bill was passed by indefinitely on a 10-3 vote, effectively killing the legislation. The bill will be referred to the Virginia Crime Commission to be studied further.

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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.







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