Legal Aid Justice Center (Virginia)

Offices in Charlottesville, Northern Virginia (Falls Church), Petersburg and Richmond.
Organization website

Primary geographic focus: Virginia
Organization type(s): Provider




Virginia governor asks how to reverse schools’ staggering rate of referrals to cops and courts

Susan Ferriss
Center for Public Integrity
May 14, 2015
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has asked members of his cabinet to recommend policy changes for the Virginia juvenile justice system.


Virginia’s pipeline to jail

Virginian-Pilot (The Pilot)
May 11, 2015
Virginia's aggressive approach to referring kids to police isn't a model for changing behavior; it's a pipeline to jail says this editorial.

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Richmond Police Chief: ‘There has to be an alternative to sending kids to jail’

Chris Thomas
WWBT Richmond (local NBC, VA)
June 10, 2015
The Police Chief of Virginia wants to change the role police play in local schools.

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Health Care Decision’s Effect on Virginia

Charlottesville Newsplex (VA)
June 25, 2015
Article detailing the effects of the Supreme Court 6-3 ruling to uphold the subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

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Mobile home residents file federal lawsuit alleging Richmond is violating Latinos’ civil rights

Katy Burnell Evans
Richmond Times-Dispatch
August 18, 2015
Dozens of mobile home park residents sued the city of Richmond on Tuesday over an “illegal and racially discriminatory” policy that they say targets Latinos.

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Settlement Reached in Fluvanna Correctional Inmate Medical Care Lawsuit

Charlottesville Newsplex (VA)
September 16, 2015
Inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and the Virginia Department of Corrections have reached a settlement on a class action lawsuit concerning medical care provided at the prison.


Fixing juvenile justice

Virginian-Pilot (The Pilot)
October 5, 2015
A new campaign aims to tackle the youth prison system in Virginia by shifting the focus to community-based solutions over incarceration.


Young, Illegal, and Alone

J. Weston Phippen
Atlantic, The
October 15, 2015
Their parents sent them to the United States to escape brutal violence. But to stay, they need to convince courts that sending them here constituted child abuse.

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Without Social Security numbers, illegal immigrants face eviction

Antonio Olivo
Washington Post
February 10, 2016
Lawyers are fighting the eviction proceedings, arguing that Waples Mobile Home Park is discriminating against the residents.

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Virginia Jails People for Even Smelling Like Alcohol

M.L. Nestel
Daily Beast
March 16, 2016
A class-action lawsuit accuses cops and prosecutors of locking up people as “habitual drunkards” after placing them on a secret blacklist that bans them from booze.

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A ‘Habitual Drunkard’ Law Is Keeping Homeless Alcoholics on the Streets in Virginia

Sydney Lupkin
March 21, 2016
And a lawsuit is challenging the law.

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Guest Workers Win in Virginia Court

Sandy Hausman
WVTF (local NPR, VA)
March 25, 2016
The Legal Aid Justice Center has won a $782,000 settlement on behalf of 200 guest workers.

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City budget series: Legal Aid looks for line-item funding

Chris Suarez
Daily Progress (VA)
March 28, 2016
A major advocate for at-risk children, immigrant youth, the elderly and many others in low-income communities soon may have a chance to enter a relatively exclusive contract with Charlottesville.


Meet 2 Central American Refugee Kids Who Are Stuck In The U.S. Immigration System

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee
April 21, 2016
Beginning next month, the federal government will change a rule in its visa guidelines that would leave kids like David and Alex stuck in limbo — potentially for years — as they wait to apply for green cards to stay in the country legally.

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VA school discipline is ‘widespread, discriminatory,’ study says

Lisa Suhay
Christian Science Monitor
May 19, 2016
Virginia disproportionately suspends African-American boys and those with disabilities for issues that are often minor, frequently entangling children in the law enforcement system.

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Undocumented Latinos and their families sue after evictions

Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post
May 23, 2016
Four Latino families being evicted from a mobile-home park because at least one family member is undocumented and doesn’t have a Social Security number filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday that advocates said could set a national precedent in fair-housing law.

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Report: Virginia’s black students three times as likely as whites to face suspension

Moriah Balingit
Washington Post
May 24, 2016
Black students in Virginia’s schools were three times as likely as white students to be suspended last year, according to a new report on school punishments.

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Virginia suspends driver’s licenses in ‘unconstitutional scheme,’ class action says

Justin Wm. Moyer
Washington Post
July 13, 2016
A suit filed July 6 against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles alleges the DMV indefinitely suspends driver’s licenses of those too poor to pay fines and court costs in an “unconstitutional scheme.”


Punished for Being Poor

Dahlia Lithwick
July 16, 2016
The Virginia scheme that suspends the driver’s license of anyone who can’t pay trivial fines.

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Halt On Juvenile Immigrant Visa Leaves Thousands In Limbo

Richard Gonzales, Marisa Peñaloza
National Public Radio (NPR)
July 28, 2016
Applying for asylum isn't easy. As a result, some young immigrants are choosing another way of staying in this country legally: a visa category called "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status."

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Va. lawsuit challenges state’s right to take driver’s licenses for unpaid tickets

Perry Chiaramonte
Fox News
July 31, 2016
Taylor is part of a class action suit which alleges that drivers have been treated unfairly under the state’s License-for-Payment system.

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Virginia Suspends Hundreds of Thousands of Driver’s Licenses Due to Unpaid Court Debt

CJ Ciaramella
August 4, 2016
More than 900,000 people in Virginia have suspended licenses, in what a new class-action lawsuit claims is an unconstitutional revenue scheme.

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‘DMV is not responsible’: Va. denies claim it unfairly suspends driver’s licenses

Justin Wm. Moyer
Washington Post
October 5, 2016
After a class-action lawsuit claimed Virginia suspends the driver’s licenses of those too poor to pay fines and court costs in an “unconstitutional scheme,” the state replied Monday, saying the suit raised no legitimate complaint.

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Tenants sue Hampton firm over debt collections

Peter Dujardin
Daily Press (Newport Beach, VA)
October 6, 2016
The complaint, filed by five tenants represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center, contends that Senex Law P.C., which hires itself out to apartment complexes across the state, sends letters to tenants purporting to be from landlords.

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DOJ: Virginia driver’s license suspension law is unconstitutional

Associated Press (AP)
November 14, 2016
The U.S. Department of Justice is siding with a lawsuit challenging Virginia's practice of suspending the driver's licenses of people who can't pay court costs and fines.


The Travelers Trapped in Horrific Limbo by Trump’s Immigration Order

Dahlia Lithwick
January 29, 2017
Judicial stays couldn’t protect everyone detained at U.S. airports.

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Legal Aid Justice Center comments on federal suit over refugee ban

Charlottesville Newsplex (VA)
January 29, 2017
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Mary Bauer, has said that the residents were being banned for racist and unconstitutional reasons.

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Meet The Local Non-Profit Challenging Trump’s Immigration Ban In Court

Rachel Kurzius
February 3, 2017
The Legal Aid Justice Center, which has been around for a half-century and has had an outpost in Falls Church for nearly two decades.

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Crowdfunding for public-interest lawsuits has come to the US, just in time for Trump’s presidency

Hanna Kozlowska
February 5, 2017
Individual contributions add up to cover legal fees, and CrowdJustice helps promote the issue online. The platform’s pitch is simple—justice should be accessible to anyone.

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In Northern Virginia, Immigration Raids Put Families On Edge

Armando Trull
February 16, 2017
For one Annandale community, the fear hit home last week, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement visited two homes at The Fairmont Park Apartments.

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After ICE Stakes Out a Church Homeless Shelter, Charities Worry Immigrants Will Fear Getting Help

Alex Emmons
Intercept, The
February 27, 2017
As soon as the men stepped onto the opposite sidewalk, a dozen federal agents burst out of the cars, forced them up against a wall, handcuffed them, and interrogated them for at least half an hour.

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Federal housing agency investigating alleged civil rights violations in Hopewell

Katy Burnwell Evans
Richmond Times-Dispatch
March 8, 2017
Federal housing officials are conducting a wide-ranging investigation of whether the civil rights of Hopewell public housing residents were violated in two redevelopment projects touted as a win-win for the city and its poor.


Time for Virginia to Get Serious About Repealing Failed Automatic Suspension Law

Marc A. Levin, Angela Ciolfi
April 10, 2017
Kimberly was one of nearly a million Virginia drivers whose license is suspended in part for failure to pay court costs and fines—that’s 1 in 6 Virginia drivers.

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Millions of drivers lost their licenses for failing to pay court fees, study finds

Justin Wm. Moyer
Washington Post
September 26, 2017
The report says that 43 states and the District suspend driver’s licenses because of unpaid fines and fees, trapping people in a “vicious court debt cycle.”

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State Laws Punish Poor By Suspending Their Driver’s Licenses

Nick McCann
MintPress News
September 26, 2017
In five states alone, a total of more than 4.2 million drivers have had their licenses suspended or revoked for failure to pay court debt, be it traffic or criminal, the report found. Texas leads the nation with 1.8 million such suspensions.

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Montana Among States That Strip Driver’s Licenses For Unpaid Court Debt

Jackie Yamanaka
Yellowstone Public Radio (MT)
September 26, 2017
A legal advocacy organization that represents low-income people says nearly every state has a law that requires the suspension of a driver’s license for nonpayment of court costs and fines.

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Report: Millions lose driver’s licenses due to unpaid court debt

Nick Iannelli
WTOP (Washington, D.C.)
September 26, 2017
According to a report released this week by the Legal Aid Justice Center, millions have seen their licenses suspended as a penalty for being unable to pay court costs and fines.

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Michigan should rethink suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fees, new report says

Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
September 26, 2017
A nationwide report says the practice unfairly punishes poor people by taking away their ability to drive legally. Some states are beginning to rethink this practice.

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Study: 100K Mich. drivers lose licenses for unpaid fees

Mike Martindale
Detroit News
September 26, 2017
A report issued Tuesday by the Virginia-based Legal Aid Justice Center finds Michigan is one of five states that require judges to seize people’s licenses if they fail to pay court fees after a trial or hearing.

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Report: Millions in U.S.Without Driver’s License Due to Unpaid Fees

Matt Talhelm
WVIR (local NBC, Charlottesville)
September 26, 2017
The report "Driven by Dollars" finds 43 states and the District of Columbia suspend licenses due to unpaid court debt. Nearly one million Virginians do not have their driver's license because of that.

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1 in 9 licensed NC drivers suspended, but not for bad driving

Travis Fain
WRAL (Raleigh)
September 26, 2017
The high number, and a relatively low churn rate of people getting their licenses back, points to a systemic problem for reform advocates, despite a state system that is more forgiving than others around the country.

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Study Highlights Tennessee’s Harsh Driver’s License Suspension Policies

Steven Hale
Nashville Scene
September 26, 2017
Tennessee is one of only five states requiring judges to indefinitely suspend licenses for failure to pay court fees.

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Report: Millions impacted by driver’s license suspensions due to court fees

Dean Seal
Daily Progress (VA)
September 26, 2017
The practice is enforced across 43 states and Washington, D.C., according to the report, and almost 40 percent of all states have laws that require mandatory suspension upon nonpayment of court debt.

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Millions Lose Driver’s Licenses Over Unpaid Court Debts

Crime Report
September 27, 2017
Millions of U.S. drivers have lost their licenses for failing to pay court debts, according to a new report from the Falls Church, Va.-based Legal Aid Justice Center.

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1.2M NC Drivers Lost Their License For Failure To Show Up To Court Or Pay Fees

Rebecca Martinez
WUNC (Chapel Hill)
September 28, 2017
The report found that linking driving privileges with court debts keeps people in poverty, according to North Carolina Justice Center Attorney Daniel Bowes, who contributed to the report.

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Michigan is 1 of 5 harshest states for driver’s license suspensions over court fees, fines

Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
September 29, 2017
The Legal Aid Justice Center analyzed the driver's license suspension polices of 50 states. Michigan's were among the five harshest.

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Traffic Debt Keeps Thousands of Low-Income Drivers Off The Road In Tennessee

Julieta Martinelli
WPLN (Nashville Public Radio)
October 2, 2017
Over the last five years, 250,000 Tennesseans have lost the right to drive legally. That’s the result of an uncommon state law that makes license suspensions mandatory if drivers can’t afford to pay court fees and traffic fines.


Easing the burden of paying court fees

Johnson City Press
October 4, 2017
Many Tennesseans live and work in communities that do not have public transportation. This leaves defendants who owe court fees at a real disadvantage when it comes to getting to work to retire those debts.

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Legal Aid Justice Center continues push for adequate inmate care

Talya Cunningham
Charlottesville Newsplex (VA)
November 17, 2017
Angela Ciolfi said the DOC needs to provide ethical health care to inmates, and if they can't, perhaps the Commonwealth needs to re-evaluate the criminal justice system.

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43 States Suspend Licenses for Unpaid Court Debt, But That Could Change

Beth Schwartzapfel
Marshall Project
November 21, 2017
Lawsuits say the practice severely penalizes those too poor to pay.

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The poverty penalty: Should states suspend driver’s licenses for court scofflaws?

Dana DiFilippo
November 27, 2017
When it comes to court debt, most states — including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey — will suspend your driver’s license until you pay up.

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Legal Aid Justice Center Reaching Out to DACA Recipients for Renewal Help

Matt Talhelm
WVIR (local NBC, Charlottesville)
January 17, 2018
The so-called "Dreamers" could run out of time; in just days, to renew their protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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Report: 1 in 6 Va. drivers have suspended licenses partly due to unpaid court debt

Justin Wm. Moyer
Washington Post
January 24, 2018
About one in six Virginia drivers has a suspended license partly because of an inability to pay court debt, according to a study from an advocacy group released Wednesday.

This page last modified: Sat, April 25, 2015 -- 12:37 pm ET