RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Gov. Ralph Northam announced a $114 million package he said would go to “support public safety initiatives across the Commonwealth.”
The funding is split into three major blocks, with the largest – $62 million – intended to boost compensation for police officers across the Commonwealth.
That may prove controversial among racial justice advocates, some of whom have joined calls to ‘defund the police’ following last Summer’s protests against police brutality.
“This critical investment will give us more resources to recruit and retain law enforcement and correctional officers,” Northam said in a statement.
An additional $35 million was set aside “to address COVID-19 in correctional facilities.” Virginia’s prisons and jails have struggled to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing criticism for providing inadaquete healthcare and perpetuating inhumane conditions.
The new funding comes less than a month after Northam ended an early release program that saw some inmates granted parole amidst climbing infection numbers.
The final $17 million was set aside for crime reduction and victim services.