Virginia House Passes Legislation to Repeal Drug Related Mandatory Minimums

February 5th, 2021
Contact: Georgia Allin
Phone: 757.525.9526

Virginia House Passes Legislation to Repeal Drug Related Mandatory Minimums

Delegate Mike Mullin Pushes for Key Criminal Justice Reform

RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 2331, carried by Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News), to repeal several mandatory minimum sentences earlier today. 

“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,” said Delegate Mullin

HB 2331 to repeal mandatory minimums primarily related to the possession of narcotics passed the House on a vote of 58-42. 

Mandatory minimum sentencing was initially implemented in Virginia and other states as a crime deterrent, but to date there is no evidence supporting its effectiveness. Instead, the criminal justice system has seen a breakdown of checks and balances, requiring judges to apply a one-size-fits-all approach when handling sentencing.

Mandatory minimums are associated with the growing costs of incarceration; the Commonwealth pays an average of $87.20 per day to keep someone incarcerated. 

In addition to the monetary costs, mandatory minimums have social costs. This policy has disproportionately harmed communities of color. A 2020 report from the Virginia Department of Corrections found that Black inmates carry more mandatory minimum sentences than their white counterparts. 

“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,” said Delegate Mullin. “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.” 

Delegate Mike Mullin represents the 93rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Hampton and a resident of Newport News.