RICHMOND — If you commit a felony in Virginia and you are sentenced to jail, your must serve your time consecutively. Now, there is a push in the state Senate to change that.
Senate Bill #167, if it becomes law, would give judges the option to sentence felons who didn’t use violence when they broke the law differently.
“If you steal something of value over $200 it’s a felony. That’s a non-violent felony, just a larceny,” said Republican State Sen. Bill Stanley, who authored the bill.
The legislation would give judges the option sentence a non-violent felon to a weekends-only jail term.
“When someone is charged and convicted with a felony, if they’re working we still want them to continue to be able to work,” Stanley said.
This comes after an Attorney General’s opinion, under Ken Cuchinelli, that requires judges to sentence felons to prison terms, where days behind bars are uninterrupted.
“If you’re convicted of felony larceny, and you’re employed instead of pulling your sentence on straight days, you could do them on weekend which would allow you to maintain your employment,” he said.
He says allowing them to check into jail every weekend would allow them to keep their jobs, feed their families, and lessen the chance that they become “dependent on the state system or state or the federal system for benefits.”
Plus, he says there is less of a chance of them becoming a repeat offender “because they lost hope and there is nothing else for them to do.”
The bill passed a house committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services on Friday. It faces a full vote in the Senate and House before it would be placed on the Governor’s desk.