Treat, don’t jail drug users, poll says

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Most Virginians agree that people who use heroin or abuse prescription drugs should receive treatment, not jail time, according to a statewide poll.

More than six out of 10 respondents believe heroin users should be offered treatment instead of being arrested and charged with a crime, the 2017 Public Policy Poll by Virginia Commonwealth University found. Seven out of 10 felt the same way about prescription drug abusers.

Citizens surveyed also voiced support for treatment programs instead of incarceration for nonviolent offenders who suffer from mental illness. The poll said 88 percent of respondents said mentally ill nonviolent offenders should be required to participate in community-based treatment programs instead of incarcerated. That feeling was shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, said the survey “demonstrates support for the governor’s initiatives with regard to mental health and combating the opioid epidemic.”

“Virginians view opioid abusers and those experiencing lack of treatment for mental illness as an increasingly difficult issue plaguing communities and that treatment options should be available for these users,” Moran said.

The poll was conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Officials released the results at a news conference this week.

The survey involved telephone interviews in December with a representative sample of 1,000 adults across Virginia. The poll had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

Besides asking about addiction and mental health issues, the survey also asked about police community relations. About three-quarters of poll respondents believe police in their community treat people fairly, do a good job handling race relations and use the appropriate amount of force in dealing with suspects.

“Public perceptions of police in our community are key to the maintenance of public safety,” said Robyn McDougle, faculty director of the Office of Public Policy Outreach and associate professor of criminal justice at the Wilder School.

“As many communities around the country are addressing dismal community police relations, Virginians’ perceptions of police are very favorable, which is a testament to the continual training and outreach that our police departments have done and continue to do around the commonwealth.”

Citizens are not as confident in the ability of public safety agencies to respond to acts of terrorism in Virginia, the survey found. Almost three of every four respondents indicated they were concerned about that.

“Terrorist attacks around the world are becoming regularly reported news events, and the commonwealth’s proximity to the nation’s capital has kept concerns regarding personal safety at the forefront of our citizens’ thoughts. Recent poll responses highlight the need for continual community conversations and preparations,” McDougle said.

The complete poll results are available at http://news.vcu.edu/pdfs/Public-Safety-Poll.pdf
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Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 10627 Patterson Ave., will hold a Vendor Fair from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month. This fundraiser was established to support the St. Bartholomew’s building fund and to support members of the congregation with home businesses. Only one vendor for each type of business. Cost is $15 per table. To participate as a vendor, contact Sarah Bay at 739-8637 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For details, visit http://www.stbartsrichmond.org. Full text

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