Tag: Marsha Garst
People reported fewer crimes overall in Harrisonburg over the last year. And fewer defendants stayed in jail as they awaited trial. At the same time, though, many of those trials have been delayed, forcing the courts to put in overtime in order to catch up on the backlog of cases. Harrisonburg and Rockingham County’s criminal justice system — like many facets of life — has operated a little differently since the pandemic began, in some cases prompting prosecutors and judges to adapt and make exceptions they wouldn’t normally do.
When pressed earlier this summer to release data about how people of different races are prosecuted locally, Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst publicly committed to greater transparency on that issue. Her ability to provide that information hinged on a new case management system her office was supposed to get this summer, but, as it turned out, was scuttled soon thereafter by budget cuts.
A silent crowd marched through downtown Harrisonburg with a single voice on Monday. Hands pointed skyward in unison at a community prayer event earlier that evening. And hundreds more gathered Wednesday evening in an online town hall to hear calls to action. Racial justice advocates across Harrisonburg — all of different races, ethnicities and ages — have mobilized peacefully and en masse in the past week. They have employed a variety of tactics to protest systemic racism and police brutality, to pay respects to George Floyd and other black Americans killed by police and to call for change.
January 1, 2020 marked the opening of Harrisonburg’s second Oxford House – the city’s first substance abuse recovery house specifically for women. In November 2018, Oxford House Summit was established for men in recovery. The new home, exclusively for women, is called Oxford House Trillium.
‘More accountability than I’ve ever seen in a court.’ How restorative justice is embedded in the Harrisonburg Police Department
On a bright fall afternoon, Officer Jason Hensley was on patrol, riding through Harrisonburg in an unmarked cruiser with a trainee officer at the wheel. Hensley had rolled down the passenger side window to take in the cool breeze and casually draped his arm against the outside of the door. The car had just passed a wooded area when Hensley heard a sharp crack.
While debate over local criminal justice continues, voters won’t have much say on top law enforcement jobs this fall
Last Tuesday’s primary election day was also deadline day: the last opportunity for candidates to file paperwork to run for local constitutional offices — such as sheriff and commonwealths’ attorney — that will appear on this November’s ballot. Aside from the incumbents, however, no one else did, meaning Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst and Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson, both Republicans, will be unopposed in their reelection campaigns once again and are all but assured of serving again until 2023.
The number of people sent to jail has outpaced a 2014 forecast. The local jail population peaked well over 600 last year, seven years earlier than predicted in the 2014 community-based corrections plan. And no one can agree on why.
The courtroom was chilly as participants in the afternoon hearing on a recent Thursday trickled in. Some were alone, others entered with partners and family members. But this wasn’t like many other court proceedings, marked by tension and conflict.