Major Changes in the Sentencing of Minors: Recent Legal Updates in the Sentencing of Youth in VA

Recent legislative changes to Virginia Code 16.1-272 give the judiciary greater guidance and discretion in sentencing youth convicted of felony offenses in Virginia. This program features an overview of the blended sentencing provisions for juveniles transferred to circuit court followed by a discussion of the new sentencing provisions passed earlier this year.

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About the Speakers

Rhanelle Collins-MeredithRhanelle Collins-Meredith currently serves as a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Chesterfield County.  Previously, she was a prosecutor with the City of Richmond and City of Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney’sssss Offices.  Prior to working as a prosecutor, she worked for Temple Law Offices in Washington, DC. Since 2010, her practice has been primarily devoted to criminal matters originating in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court including cases involving violent juvenile offenses, child physical and sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and domestic violence.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Politcal Science from Virginia Union University and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She is currently a member of the Chesterfield Intimate Partner and Family Violence Fatality Review Committee, Chesterfield Domestic Violence Task Force, the Human Trafficking Regional Law Enforcement Collaborative, and the Regional Child Fatality Review Committee. 

James DoldJames Dold: Inspired by his own personal experiences of child sexual abuse and child labor trafficking, as well as his work fighting to end child trafficking and the use of cruel punishments imposed on children who were convicted of serious crimes, James Dold founded Human Rights for Kids in May of 2017 in response to the human rights abuses that children in the U.S. and around the world face on a daily basis.

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It was his belief that by bringing together diverse stakeholders from various ideological and political backgrounds that we can create a national movement to holistically change society’s failure to adequately care for our most marginalized and vulnerable children. Only by tackling the issues of childhood poverty, child abuse & exploitation, childhood delinquency & crime, and education together can we secure the protection of every child’s human rights so that he or she may fulfill their God given potential and have an equal chance in the race of life.

Judge Jerrauld JonesJudge Jerrauld Jones is currently the Chief Judge of the Norfolk Circuit Court. He joined the Circuit Court in 2008, having previously served for three years as a Judge of the Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Prior to his judicial appointments, Jerrauld Jones served as the Direction of the Virginia Dept. of Juvenile Justice and served 15 years in the Virginia House of Delegates.

As an Anne C. Stouffer Foundation Scholar, he was among the first students to break racial barriers at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia. . After graduating with honors from Princeton University and the School of Law at Washington and Lee University, he was the first African-American to serve as a Law Clerk for the Justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia.  Following his clerkship, he served for two years as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Norfolk.

He has received numerous honors, awards, and citations for his contributions to law and for his public service.  In 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Virginia State University. In 2015, the Virginia State Bar awarded him its Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award. In 2016, the South Hampton Roads Bar Association presented him with its inaugural “Judge of the Year” award. In 2018, he was presented with Men for Hope’s Trailblazer Award. In 2019, he was presented with the Hugo A. Owens, Sr., Humanitarian Award by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In 2020, the United Negro College Fund conferred its highest honor, the MASKED Award (Mankind Assisting Students Kindle Educational Dreams).In September 2019, Gov. Ralph Northam appointed him to serve on the Commission on Racial Inequity in Virginia Law.

Brad Lindsay is the Deputy Public Defender for the Lynchburg City Office of the Public Defender. Brad received his undergraduate degree from George Mason University, and received his Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law.  Brad first began working as a public defender with the Fairfax County office in 2012. In 2018, Brad transitioned to the Bedford County Office of the Public Defender where he was the Senior Trial Attorney with a specialization in training.  Brad joined the Lynchburg office in January 2020.

During his career, Brad has tried a wide variety of cases ranging from driving on a suspended license to a jury acquittal of not guilty by reason of insanity on first degree murder. He has also argued before the Virginia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Virginia. 

Brad is currently a faculty member for the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission’s Public Defender Boot Camp and Advanced Trial Advocacy College. Brad sits on the Virginia State Bar’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee. He also sits on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center as a consulting member, as well as a member of the Robert E. Shepherd Jr. Juvenile Law and Education Conference Planning Committee.

Brad has previously presented at the National Juvenile Defender Center’s Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit, the Virginia State Bar Leroy R. Hassell Sr. Indigent Criminal Defense Seminar, the VIDC’s Annual Public Defender Conference, as well as its Annual Investigator Conference.

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Julie McConnellJulie E. McConnell is a law professor and the Director of the Children’s Defense Clinic at the University of Richmond School of Law. She has worked in juvenile justice for more than 25 years and is a frequent speaker and trainer on these issues. Through her clinic, she and her students represent on a pro bono basis, indigent youth, at trial, in school-based proceedings, and in post-conviction serious offender hearings. McConnell also served as co-counsel on the Azeem Majeed Miller re-sentencing case. The Court reduced Majeed’s two life sentences to 25 years. She also collaborated on the Philip Friend Miller resentencing in U.S. District Court, resulting in a 12-year reduction in his sentence. She has served as a juvenile justice system expert in a Virginia capital murder case and is currently a juvenile justice consultant for the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Valetta, Malta. She and her students also advocate for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status predicate orders for unaccompanied minors from Central America to assist in their path to citizenship and she recently started a project to represent individuals originally sentenced as juveniles before the parole board. Additionally, she serves as co-chair of the Virginia Advisory Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention and was recently appointed the Chair of the Virginia Bar Association’s Commission on the Needs of Children.

Vivian WattsDel. Vivian Watts, Delegate 39th House District, Virginia House of Delegates. Vice Chair, Courts of Justice Committee; Chair, Finance Committee. Education: University of Michigan, MI (B.A., cum laude, 1962).

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