End Secrecy Around Criminal Investigative Records in Virginia

Photo of the Norfolk Four courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.

Making police investigative files public will help prevent wrongful convictions and bring justice to victims of police abuse. 

Currently, under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the release of police criminal investigation records is discretionary and difficult to access. As a result, organizations like the Innocence Project at UVA School of Law and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project cannot fully investigate wrongful convictions.  The Virginia legislature has now passed HB 2004, which would open police investigative files to the public — a key to preventing wrongful convictions and bringing real justice to victims of police abuse.

In the infamous case of the Norfolk Four, four Navy sailors were brutally interrogated by Norfolk police until they falsely confessed to a rape and murder. The detective who led the interrogations, Robert Glenn Ford, was later convicted of federal corruption in 2011. Ford was also involved in four other wrongful conviction cases that are currently being litigated by the Innocence Project at UVA School of Law. Under the current law, innocence organizations cannot access important criminal investigative files to see if Ford was involved in any other wrongful convictions.

HB 2004 just needs the governor’s signature! Use the form above to contact Gov. Ralph Northam and urge him to sign HB 2004, to lift the shield on police investigative records in Virginia. 

 

This campaign is in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the Innocence Project at UVA School of Law.

 

Read these recent op-eds on why we need to change the law:

Virginia must bolster access to police investigations The Virginian-Pilot, Feb. 27, 2021

Want police accountability? Strengthen transparency laws. The Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 13, 2020

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