The following statement is from ACLU of Virginia Policy and Advocacy Strategist Shawn Weneta:
"We are deeply disappointed that lawmakers voted against establishing independent oversight over Virginia Department of Corrections and no-cost prison communications. The people in Virginia's prisons -- both correctional staff and the incarcerated people in their care -- need these critical reforms now.
"It defies common sense to leave one of the cheapest yet most effective public safety tools -- phone calls to loved ones -- on the table. It makes even less sense to allow out-of-state vendors to continue bilking Virginia taxpayers. Yet by voting no on SB 1274 today, lawmakers did just that. And by refusing to pass SB 994, lawmakers ignored consensus from everyone from law enforcement to incarcerated people's families, all of whom agree that VADOC cannot effectively police itself.
"By killing these bills in committee along party lines despite bipartisan support from lawmakers and Virginians on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers proved once again that political agendas outweigh the will of the people. But we remain committed to working for safer conditions for incarcerated Virginians and a more transparent agency; the Commonwealth deserves no less."