THREAD: Extremely disappointing to hear @mikemullin4VA call for the House to send SB 5007 for further study. This bill ends mandatory jury sentencing, which prosecutors use to deny 80% of defendants their right to a jury trial. We say that practice needs to end immediately. 1/11
Mullin argues that changing criminal procedure is like building a bridge. "We don’t build a bridge without finding out how much it’s going to cost," he says. But this analogy doesn't hold. Building a bridge costs something up front. Changing criminal procedure costs nothing. 2/11
Mullin argues that SB 5007 will increase trials, which requires more court personnel, lawyers, etc. The first part is true - SB 5007 will give more people their day in court, which is what makes it an essential criminal justice reform. The second part is VACA's speculation. 3/11
Will more trials require more prosecutors and defense attorneys? There's no way to know until the law takes effect. Adding a jury trial or two every month wouldn't require more attorneys. It would just mean that they spend the afternoon in court instead of in their offices. 4/11
No study can tell us what plea offers future CAs will make, nor whether the accused will accept those offers. No study can predict how many motions to suppress will be granted after plea offers are rejected. The study will tell us nothing concrete - it's just a delay tactic. 5/11
But another few juries per month - across dozens of jurisdictions - would mean that hundreds of Virginians would have their jury trial rights restored. The restoration of that right is priceless, which is why several progressive Virginia prosecutors favor passage of SB 5007. 6/11
Mullin also discounts the savings this bill will create: "We don’t speculate [that building a bridge] is going to save on commuting costs." But it's Mullin and VACA who are speculating about costs, assuming with no basis that more juries mean more costs. 7/11
In fact, we know that SB 5007 will save money. Eliminating mandatory sentences means shorter sentences. Forcing prosecutors to negotiate on a level playing field means shorter sentences. Hundreds of new jury trials will mean many acquittals, which means *no* sentence. 8/11
Incarcerating people is expensive - it costs over $31,000 per year to lock someone up. The savings this bill will create are not speculative. They are far more concrete than the potential hiring needs that a few more jury trials a month in each jurisdiction would cause. 9/11
If allowing the accused to have his day in court eventually creates additional staffing costs, we should fund those needs as they arise. But speculation that those costs may eventually materialize is no reason to continue to deny 80% of defendants their fundamental rights. 10/11
Ending mandatory jury sentencing is a straightforward bill that would restore one of the most basic rights in our criminal justice system. No more delays. No more VACA-created excuses. Call and email your Delegate, as well as House Leadership, and tell them to pass SB 5007. 11/11

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