Northam pledges to block all mandatory minimum sentence bills

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he will no longer sign any legislation that imposes new mandatory minimum sentence requirements. Northam said in a news release Wednesday and in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that Virginia has “more than enough” mandatory minimum sentences in law already. He said judges need more discretion to decide punishments on a case-by-case basis. The Democratic governor said he adopted this new policy after talking to community leaders about how to make Virginia more equitable for communities of color. Northam almost resigned earlier this year over a blackface scandal. Northam also announced he was vetoing two recently passed pieces of legislation that imposed new mandatory minimums, including one related to repeat domestic abusers. Republican House Majority Leader called Northam’s veto of that bill “unconscionable.”

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