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McDonnell rolls out public safety proposals

By Chelyen Davis

RICHMOND—Gov. Bob McDonnell wants more jail time for repeat drug dealers, more money for police and tougher penalties for several types of crimes. McDonnell rolled out his public safety agenda at a news conference yesterday.

“We’re in pretty good shape in Virginia,” he said. “But there are more things to be done.”One bill he has hinted at recently would send repeat drug dealers to jail for longer periods of time—five years for a second offense and 10 for a third offense.

 Repeat drug dealers, Mc Donnell said, are “the ones that continue to infect our communities, that didn’t learn their lesson the first time.”

“If you’re going to deal drugs in Virginia, be on notice,” he added. “You’re going to prison for a lot longer period of time.”

McDonnell is also propos ing that localities seeking drug courts can have them without additional state per mission, as long as they pay for them themselves.

He suggests tougher pen alties for some sex offenses, such as a mandatory mini mum life sentence for rape or forcible sodomy of a child under age 13. Another bill would require juveniles over age 13 who are guilty of a sex offense to register with the state sex-offender registry.

 

McDonnell said sex of fenses, especially when com mitted against children, have long-term effects on the victims.

 

“They have essentially ru ined that child for a consid erable period of time,” Mc Donnell said. “There is no place in society for these child predators.”

 

Other bills—one is being sponsored by Sen. Richard Stuart, R–Stafford—would establish minimum manda tory sentences for involun tary manslaughter caused by a driver’s being drunk. That driver could get one year minimum for involuntary manslaughter, and five years for aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

 

Another bill, discussed by Attorney General Ken Cuc cinelli, would allow the gov ernor to release a percentage of Line of Duty Act funds immediately, without an in vestigation. The Line of Duty Act provides survivor bene fits for the families of law enforcement officers who are killed on the job, and it also provides benefits to officers who are injured.

 

McDonnell has spoken be fore of a delay in getting money to families because investigations into the death or injury must take place first. The bill allows him to release 20 percent of the money to the family right away.

Several of the proposals McDonnell discussed are al ready in his suggested bud get—$11 million for the harsher sentences for drug dealers, for instance, along with money to open up more state trooper slots.

Del. Dave Albo, R–Fairfax, who chairs the House Courts of Justice Committee, said many of the proposed changes have been needed for years, but that there was never money devoted to them in the past.

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245 cdavis@freelancestar.com

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