FEBRUARY 29, 2024

In the landscape of criminal justice reform, Virginia's HB1252 emerges as a beacon of progressive change, aiming to redefine the approach towards technical violations in the revocation of suspended sentences. This legislation, introduced by Delegate Adele Y. McClure, proposes a nuanced understanding of justice, one that acknowledges the complexities of human behavior while striving for a more equitable legal system.

At its core, HB1252 seeks to limit the imposition of active incarceration for first and second technical violations during the period of a suspended sentence. Technical violations, often minor infractions such as missing a probation meeting or failing a drug test, have historically led to disproportionately severe consequences, including the revocation of suspended sentences and subsequent incarceration. This bill represents a critical step forward in addressing these disparities, advocating for a system that prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment for non-violent offenders.

The necessity of such reform is underscored by the stories and statistics that paint a grim picture of the current state of the criminal justice system. As explored in the video "Africana Legal Studies: A New Theoretical Approach To Law And Protocol," and further elaborated in Angi Porter's article in the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the existing legal framework often fails to consider the socio-economic challenges faced by individuals, particularly those from underrepresented communities. This oversight has led to a cycle of recidivism, where minor technical violations result in individuals being thrust back into the criminal justice system, thereby exacerbating the challenges of reintegration into society.

Drawing parallels with Critical Race Theory (CRT), HB1252 embodies the principle that the law should be an instrument of equity. CRT, with its emphasis on the intersectionality of race, law, and power, provides a theoretical foundation that complements the practical implications of HB1252. Both advocate for a legal system that recognizes the pervasive influence of historical and systemic inequalities on present-day legal outcomes. By addressing the issue of technical violations, HB1252 not only seeks to reform the legal system but also to challenge the underlying racial and socio-economic disparities that CRT highlights.

The discussion around HB1252 and its implications also invites a broader conversation about justice and legal practices, as seen through the lens of the Bamana Protocol. This cultural framework, originating from the Bamana people of West Africa, emphasizes community, rehabilitation, and the restoration of harmony following transgressions. The parallels between the Bamana Protocol and the objectives of HB1252 are striking, suggesting that the pursuit of justice can benefit from a diversity of perspectives, particularly those that prioritize the well-being of the community and the individual's potential for growth and redemption.

As Virginia stands on the cusp of enacting HB1252, the implications extend far beyond the state's borders. This legislation serves as a model for national reform, offering a blueprint for how states can navigate the complexities of technical violations in a manner that is both just and compassionate. By limiting the use of incarceration for minor infractions, HB1252 not only alleviates the burden on the criminal justice system but also affirms the dignity and potential of those it seeks to rehabilitate.

In conclusion, Virginia's HB1252 represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing journey towards criminal justice reform. By reevaluating the response to technical violations, this legislation offers a glimpse into a future where the legal system operates as a force for positive change, guided by principles of equity, compassion, and understanding. As we reflect on the insights provided by Africana Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory, and the Bamana Protocol, it becomes clear that the path to justice is multifaceted, requiring a holistic approach that embraces the full spectrum of human experience.


  • Virginia's HB1252 is a new rule trying to make sure people aren't punished too harshly for small mistakes, like missing a meeting, especially if it's their first or second time.

  • This change is important because the way things are now, small mistakes can lead to big problems, especially for people from communities that don't get treated fairly, making it harder for them to get back on track.

  • HB1252 is part of a bigger idea that laws should help fix problems, not just punish people, and it's inspired by ways of thinking from around the world that say we should help and understand each other more.

  • Contact your Virginia State Senator and House Delegate, and voice your concerns.