Letter of Transmittal

Virginia Advisory Committee to 
the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Members of the Commission

Mary Frances Berry, Chairperson
Cruz Reynoso, Vice Chairperson
Carl A. Anderson
Christopher F. Edley, Jr.
Yvonne Y. Lee
Elsie M. Meeks
Russell G. Redenbaugh
Victoria Wilson

Ruby G. Moy, Staff Director

The Virginia Advisory Committee is pleased to present for your consideration, Unequal Justice: African Americans in the Virginia Criminal Justice System. The Committee adopted this report by a unanimous vote, 15 to 0.

During 2 days of factfinding meetings and community comment sessions over March 6-7, 1997, in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia, the Committee heard statements from civil rights activists and interested area residents, law professors and students, local law enforcement and elected officials, and Virginia criminal justice agencies. This report summarizes their statements.

The Committee heard allegations that African Americans do not receive equal treatment in the Virginia criminal justice system. Charging that the administration of justice is affected by racial discrimination, critics of the system pointed to statistics that show heavy concentrations of African Americans in prisons as one result of police and prosecutors pursuing African Americans more aggressively than whites. The Committee investigated these serious allegations and found several unresolved problems that our recommendations address.

Restoring public confidence that equal treatment under law is a reality in Virginia's administration of justice is essential to maintaining respect for the State's justice system. We urge Commonwealth of Virginia and Federal Government officials to rededicate their commitments to equal justice and civil rights protection in the State.


Roger A. Gavin, Chairperson
Virginia Advisory Committee