I have made restoration of civil and voting rights of former offenders a central focus of my administration, and I'm proud to say that in just one year, we restored the rights of more than 5,200 former offenders.
Second, we've dramatically improved our prisoner re-entry system.
A: Yes; capital punishment should be legal but rare. We should take seriously credible claims of innocence and allow for reasonable requests for potentially exonerating DNA tests, but also work to reduce the misuse of criminal justice resources and streamline the appeals process. I also recommend considering ways to ensure quality representation in death penalty cases and disincentivize requests for the death penalty, e.g., by providing additional funding for the defense (in cases of public-defender or court-appointed defense counsel) when the prosecution seeks the death penalty.
I believe in, and we have, tough statutes and sentences for those who break our laws and endanger our citizens and communities. As a result, our crime rates are down. However, our recidivism rate is still too high. Reduction in recidivism means fewer victims, and less prison costs. America is a nation of second chances and those leaving prison should have the opportunity to change.
We are implementing sweeping new prisoner re-entry programs throughout our correctional system through the leadership of our first statewide prisoner re-entry coordinator and our new Director of the Department of Corrections. And I am pleased to say that since taking office we have implemented the fastest and fairest system for the restoration of civil rights in modern Virginia history.
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