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On Oct. 7, 2023, the Virginia Prison Justice Network and the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality will co-sponsor a PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ON VIRGINIA’S PRISONS, JAILS & DETENTION CENTERS, an all-day public hearing to be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. 3rd St. in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, scheduled to run from 10 am to 4 pm.

Testimony about injustices in the state’s prisons, jails and immigrant detention centers will be presented by prisoners, formerly incarcerated individuals, family members and advocates. The testimony will be heard by a panel of Community Judges from the legal profession, academia, the religious community and more. (See below.)

After the Tribunal, a report will be published and presented to every candidate for the 2023 election to the Virginia General Assembly, and every candidate will be asked to take a position on the proposal to create an Independent Outside Oversight Body to oversee all places of confinement in the state. The goal is to make Prison Justice an issue that can’t be ignored in the election.

The People’s Tribunal is a continuation of the annual Virginia Prison Justice rallies held for the last six years in January by the Virginia Prison Justice Network, and is shaping up to be the largest event ever held in Virginia in support of the human rights of the state’s prisoners. As of Sept. 5, the Tribunal has been endorsed by more than two dozen organizations and individuals, including 15 Prison Justice organizations. (See below.) More than 300 people have responded on the Facebook event page, with more than 100 already saying they will be going. (“People’s Tribunal on Virginia Prisons, Jails & Detention Centers.”)

For more information, call or text 804-644-5834 or email

For a more detailed explanation of the People’s Tribunal, see the Spring and Summer 2023 editions of The Virginia Defender newspaper at


The Virginia Prison Justice Network was founded in 2018 to promote unity in the movement for justice in Virginia’s prisons and jails. (

The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality is an all-volunteer community organization founded in 2002 to work for the survival of our communities through education and social justice organizing. (  –  –



PRINCESS BLANDING – Sister of Marcus-David Peters; Co-founder, Justice & Reformation; Liberation Party candidate for governor of Virginia, 2021

LILLIE “MS. K” BRANCH-KENNEDY – Executive Director, Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged & Disenfranchised (R.I.H.D.); mother of a formerly incarcerated son

MARGARET BRESLAU – Cofounder & Steering Committee Member, Virginia Prison Justice Network; Chair, Coalition for Justice, Blacksburg

MONICA CHAVEZ – Co-founder, Amigos Legacy, works with programs to improve the quality of life in the community

MIGNONNE C. GUY, Ph.D. – Chair, Department of African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University; Founder and Co-chair, VCU College of Humanities and Sciences Committee on Racial Equity and of the Committee on Racial Equity Student Advisory Group. Richmond

REV. RODNEY HUNTER – Pastor, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church; Vice President, Richmond Area Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

ROB POGGENKLASS – Executive Director, Justice Forward Virginia; former attorney with the Youth Justice and Civil Rights and Racial Justice program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville


ENDORSEMENTS (as of Sept. 5, 2023):


Abolish Slavery Virginia

Bridging the Gap in Virginia

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (Virginia CURE)

Coalition for Justice (Blacksburg)

Forty Strong

Freedom Over Everything (F.O.E.)

From Conviction 2 Redemption

House of Dreams ReEntry Services

Interfaith Action for Human Rights

National Association of Social Workers – VA/DC (NASW VA/DC)

Nolef Turns Inc.

Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged & Disenfranchised (R.I.H.D.)

Sistas in Prison Reform

Virginia Justice Alliance

Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee


Community of United Focus (Norfolk)

Community Unity in Action (Richmond)

Hampton Roads Coalition for Peace & Planet

Odessa Solidarity Campaign (Richmond)

Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project (Richmond)

The Virginia Defender newspaper


Princess Blanding – Liberation Party Candidate for Virginia Governor, 2021

Askari Lumumba – Co-Founder & Steering Committee Member, VAPJN; Member, Virginia Defenders (incarcerated at Greensville CC)

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson – Defense Minister, Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (incarcerated at Sussex I CC)

Uhuru Baraka Rowe – Co-founder/Co-leader, Justice for Uhuru Coordinating Committee and Incarcerated Women’s Clemency & Support Project (incarcerated at Dillwyn CC)

Shaka Shakur – on behalf of NALC – New Afrikan Liberation Collective, Co-Founder (incarcerated at Beaumont CC)

Natasha White – Director of Community Engagement, Interfaith Action for Human Rights

Phil Wilayto – Editor, The Virginia Defender newspaper