NAACP fighting local banishing law - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

NAACP fighting local banishing law

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One of Virginia's oldest laws is under scrutiny. The NAACP is fighting a local banishing law, saying it's wrong to throw criminals who have served their time out of Lunenburg County.

A town hall meeting Thursday night got heated. The argument is that this is a civil rights issue. Those against the law say banishing people separates families.

The NAACP says one person was prevented from attending a loved one's burial, but others argue this law actually does more good for the community.

Some attorneys are speaking out to defend the banishment law because they say it actually gets criminals what they want - a shorter jail sentence.

Criminal defense attorney Donald Gee says the banishment works. Criminals may be forced out, but it gives convicted criminals an opportunity to rehabilitate, go out and live a better life until they can return - it's better than being in jail longer.

"I like it for the clients that I've had…if our clients can spend some time in jail, because that's often the plea agreement, and also stay outside of the county, hopefully they will use that time wisely... better than putting them in jail for 5 years 6 years," said criminal defense attorney, Donald Gee.

Lunenburg NAACP President Aileen Moorman argues no one else practices this age-old law - and there's a reason why.

"It goes back to puritan times, it's outdated…they cannot come back and visit their family, if they have death in the family, a member of the family have to go to the commonwealth's attorney," said Moorman.

Even gee agrees it's not commonly used.

"I have not had an opportunity to convince any other prosecutor to do it," said Gee.

And Moorman says the ACLU is also involved in fighting this law. She says this is not a racial issue and that she just wanted the public's help in building a case.

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