A key Senate Republican said Thursday that he’ll back legislation that would allow young people to seek expungement of alcohol and marijuana convictions.
State Sen. Ryan McDougle, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus, said the bill will be one of a few criminal justice reform measures likely to move in the coming legislative session, which begins next month. He said people under 21 should be given a shot at expungement to improve their employment options.
The legislation would deal with simple possession cases, not selling marijuana. McDougle, a former prosecutor, said there’s no method for expungement now.
McDougle, R-Hanover, and House Majority Leader Kirk Cox also signaled that a number of juvenile justice reforms Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to propose in the coming weeks will find receptive ears in the Republican controlled General Assembly.
The governor’s Department of Juvenile Justice pitched a number of changes recently to the House Appropriations Committee, including the replacement of a pair of aging detention facilities that it doesn’t feel suit rehabilitation mission.
McDougle said the Senate may not follow the path laid out by the administration, but he said the ideas are “very thoughtful” and that “we might have some ways we can achieve some of the goals he wants to do in a different direction.”
Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said the House will likely take a similar direction.
“Some of the concepts are really good,” Cox said of DJJ Director Andrew Block’s proposals. “I think we like a lot of the innovation that he’s looking at.”
Cox specifically mentioned Block’s proposal for a new juvenile justice facility in Hampton Roads, which is part of a plan to keep young offenders closer to home.
The comments came during A.P. Day, an annual gathering of press and politicians ahead of the legislative session.