Passions flare as criminal justice reforms advance in House

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 8:18 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Passions flared Thursday in the Virginia House of Delegates, as criminal justice reforms continued to advance.

Republicans questioned the priorities of the Democratic majority, and Democrats defended changes they say are long overdue.

With more than a dozen reforms on the House calendar Thursday, Republicans took issue with a special session they say is now dominated by measures addressing the actions of police.

Republican Del. William Wampler III (R-Washington County) questioned their impact.

“The path we’ve set ourselves on this session is wrong,” Wampler said. “With few exceptions, the bills I see on the calendar today aren’t going to make Virginia a better place. They’re not going to make better police. They’re not going to produce less crime in Virginia.”

House Majority Leader Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) offered a passionate defense.

“I am sorry if it makes some people uncomfortable,” Herring said, “but the goal of this session is to heal, to make us stronger, to help the police, to make them stronger.”

Republicans argued major changes are being rushed without adequate review.

“We’re elected to make the tough decisions,” said Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), “but we aren’t elected to make the wrong decisions.”

Democrats said they are long overdue.

“This is not a war against police,” said Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico County). “This is a war for justice.”

Democrats hold the majority in both chambers, so most of the criminal justice reforms are now headed toward final passage.

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