McClellan Calls for Transformative Justice on Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death

McClellan: ‘It’s past time for leadership that ends the cycle of injustice at its root, and I’ll lead the charge as the next governor.’


RICHMOND, Va. – Today, on the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, gubernatorial candidate Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) released a statement calling for a transformation of Virginia’s justice system.


“The anniversary of George Floyd’s death is a sobering reminder of how often our country fails its promise of equal justice for all and an urgent call to fundamentally transform justice in Virginia,” McClellan said. “We’ve made significant progress in the past year on police and justice reform, due in no small part to the call of activists demanding change in the wake of Floyd’s murder. But there is so much more work to do to end the vicious cycle that has criminalized and killed Black and Brown Virginians for generations.

“As governor, comprehensive justice reform will be my clarion call. I will end qualified immunity, mandate Civilian Review Boards, and create a new State Investigative Unit to hold law enforcement accountable when they violate their oath. I will also continue the work I’ve done over the course of my career to repeal low-level offenses that criminalize poverty, addiction, mental health conditions, and disabilities while reinvesting resources into our communities to prevent Virginians from encountering the justice system in the first place. 


“We cannot leave the fight for equal justice to our children we need it now. It’s past time for leadership that ends the cycle of injustice at its root, and I’ll lead the charge as the next governor.”


In McClellan’s 16 sessions in the legislature, she has been a leading champion of justice reform. She cosponsored the bill that abolished the death penalty in Virginia, which made Virginia the first state in the South to do so. McClellan also patroned and cosponsored bills to reduce the criminalization of low-level offenses, including increasing the felony larceny threshold; repealing the Habitual Offender Act; and decriminalizing HIV status. She has passed bills to break the school-to-prison pipeline and cosponsored legislation reforming Virginia’s bail and sentencing laws. 


McClellan also co-sponsored sweeping police reforms last year, including:

  • Prohibiting No Knock Warrants 

  • Banning Sex With Individuals Arrested by Law Enforcement

  • Prohibiting Hiring of Officers Fired or Resigned During Use of Force Investigations

  • Expanding Decertification Procedure for Law Enforcement Officers

  • Banning chokeholds and strangleholds 

  • Requiring Attempts at De-escalation Prior to Use of Force

  • Requiring Warnings Before Shots Fired

  • Requiring Law Enforcement to Exhaust All Other Means Prior to Using Deadly Force 

  • Creating Duty to Intervene by Fellow Law Enforcement Officers

  • Prohibiting Shooting at Moving Motor Vehicles 

  • Requiring Departments to Create a Use of Force Continuum 

  • Requiring Comprehensive Reporting by All Law Enforcement Agencies Including Use of Force Data

  • Requiring De-escalation Training and Standardizes Minimum Training

  • Eliminating Increased Law Enforcement Funding if Agency Fails to Obtain Accreditation

  • Tackling racial profiling in law enforcement by limiting pretextual traffic stops

  • Authorizing the creation of civilian review boards with the power to issue subpoenas and make binding recommendations

  • Authorizing the Attorney General to investigate police departments that deprive persons of rights, privileges or immunities

  • Establishing mental health mobile crisis co-response teams


McClellan is committed to transforming justice throughout the Commonwealth to create a generational cycle of restoration and re-entry rather than one of inequity. Her “Transforming Virginia’s Justice System” plan will reinvest and refund community programs to provide the help and the treatment that will keep many individuals from interacting with the criminal justice system in the first place. 


The plan also proposes sentencing and bail reform, including reinstating discretionary parole, funding investigators to eliminate the backlog of pardon petitions, ending cash bail and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. These actions will help reduce the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown Virginians, low-income Virginians, and disabled Virginians. McClellan also pledges to use her executive power as governor to pardon anyone incarcerated for a marijuana possession offense.