FILE - Prison, jail, inmate, corrections

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday he signed legislation that would allow incarcerated people to work off the costs of fines through community service work while they’re in prison.

“It’s already hard enough for our justice-involved population to reintegrate into society,” Northam said in a statement. “If we can help them reduce debts they owe our courts, that is one less burden they face as they work to rebuild their lives. I am pleased to sign this bill.”

Previous law allowed a person to work off the costs of fines before or after incarceration, not during. Supporters saw this legislation as a means to expand criminal justice reform and to provide more options for those struggling to pay fines.

The legislation, House Bill 277, was sponsored by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News.

“This legislation brings consistency to one’s ability to apply community service during incarceration toward fees and fines,” Price said in a statement. “If it can apply before and after, it’s only fair to permit these individuals to earn this same credit during their time of incarceration.”

The bipartisan bill received unanimous support in both chambers of the General Assembly. It will go into effect on July 1.

– The Center Square

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.