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Com Com Live! The Path to a More Just Charlottesville

The Com Com Newsletter went live with a local panel of criminal justice advocates with a discussion of policy and reentry services.

On June 18, Tierney Fairchild of Resilience Education moderated our third criminal justice themed virtual conversation with Harold Folley of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Whitmore Merrick of the City of Charlottesville’s Home to Hope, and Martize Tolbert of The Fountain Fund.

“We’re seeing history unveiling itself in front of us.” —Martize Tolbert

Fairchild opened the conversation by having the group reflect on the positives that 2020 has presented for the sector, most notably that “this crisis is helping us have this conversation.” Since the start of Covid-19, hundreds of individuals have been released from prison locally. As Virginia begins to reopen, other issues are arising. Folley and Tolbert talked about the “wave of evictions” they expect to see once the state ban is lifted and courts start opening back up. Many of Merrick’s Charlottesville residents have already been “pushed out into Albemarle county” due to the lack of rent assistance and housing options available. To further complicate these issues, many experience difficulties obtaining any sort of housing agreements because of their criminal record. Going forward, Merrick sees expungement as the “ultimate way to alleviate these barriers” and Tolbert referenced Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Act as an aspirational policy change.

“When people are thinking about divesting and investing, think about these reentry organizations.” Harold Folley

Covid-19 has brought new issues to light, many of which criminal justice advocates have been trying to address for years. Our panel urges the public to view this time as a movement, not a moment, and continue to advocate for change.

We'll have be adding in a link to the full video soon — check back! Be sure to join us for the next edition by registering for our Com Com Live! series. These virtual events are free to all!


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