Category Archives: legal

Made a Mistake? Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

People make mistakes all the time; the human factor dictates that actions are often less than perfect. The critical part about mistakes comes after the fact; take opportunities to learn how to act differently in the future. Each mistake is a learning opportunity to create an alternative future. Realizing the mistake, learning from the process, and practicing different habits can help to prevent the same thing from recurring.

Realizing the Mistake

The first step is realizing that you’ve made a mistake, and admitting that freely. According to Rowdy G. Williams, “being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) can lead to serious penalties that have a long-lasting effect on your life.” Not just DUI convictions, but any conviction can have long lasting effects on your life and livelihood. 

Taking responsibility for the action helps to reinforce any change that will follow. Try to pick yourself up after making a mistake rather than blaming yourself repeatedly. The negative thoughts will do more harm than productivity. Similarly, avoiding responsibility and refusing to admit that a mistake happened is as non-productive. Own your actions, learn from them, and develop different habits to move past them.

Learning from the Process

Take the opportunity to learn from your mistake. Understand that in order not to be credited with another conviction, your thought process must change. Learning about the science behind the problem may help to motivate you to make changes. Think about your future and weigh the consequences of your actions before making another mistake. Enlist the help of family, friends, medical practitioners, research studies, library books, and any other sources you can find. Educating yourself about your issues can be an empowering way to begin seeking alternatives and behavior changes. The more you know, the more options are available to you.

Practicing Different Habits

Finally, invest in practicing different habits. Use tools like group meetings, a support system of friends and family, a sponsor, and involving yourself in different social circles to help you along the way. Nolef Turns, Inc. is a great resource for finding support from others dealing with convictions. Consider being a mentor/buddy for someone dealing with legal issues or for a child with an incarcerated parent. You might even delve into different self-care practices by taking time to discover which activities bring you joy. Creative outlets like writing, reading, dance, and blogging can be wonderfully productive outlets. Perhaps your outlet comes in the form of a sport, exercise, or another form of fitness. Regardless of what makes you happy, practice it regularly to supplement fostering new habits.

When you make a mistake, make every effort to pick yourself back up afterward. Admit that it happened, take responsibility, learn about alternatives, and dedicate yourself to behavior change so that the same mistake does not occur repeatedly. Above all, be patient and kind to yourself; self-change takes time.


ACLU-VA Denounces ‘Regressive, Unconstitutional’ Voting Rights Measure

Senate Joint Resolution 223, sponsored by Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg) was reported by the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee today on a narrow 8-6 vote. It now goes to the Senate floor for a vote. The ACLU of Virginia urges the Senate to vote no on this alarmingly regressive effort to roll back the right to vote and disenfranchise more Virginians.
Here’s our statement which can be attributed to Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia:
“SJR223 is now the only measure on voting rights restoration still alive in the Senate. But make no mistake, it does not work to expand restoration of voting rights to those previously convicted of a felony as its proponents want people to believe. The substitute that is going to the floor for a vote works to further restrict the right to vote.
“There is nothing “automatic” about the criteria and process that will be written in stone in our constitution even for persons who were convicted of nonviolent felonies. First, the definition of violent and nonviolent felonies is left to the legislature and can be changed at will. It took almost 10 years to convince a Virginia Governor to move drug possession crimes from violent to nonviolent for purposes of voting rights restoration. There is no guarantee what definition a politically gerrymandered legislature with a proven record of voter suppression will apply.
“Instead of simply repealing the Jim Crow disenfranchisement provision and affirming the right of every Virginian to vote, SJR 223, as amended, would rewrite our constitution to:
• “Persons convicted of a violent felony as defined by the General Assembly would be permanently banned from voting.”
• “Continue to say anyone convicted of any nonviolent felony – as defined by the legislature – at any time can never vote again unless they meet certain criteria and follow certain procedures to get their rights back.
• “Condition the right to vote for those convicted of nonviolent felonies on full repayment of government fines, costs and user fees (including interest) — a modern day poll tax which offends the U.S. Constitution.
• “Give the legislature the ability to decide whether a felony is violent or nonviolent and to decide the terms on which people convicted of nonviolent felonies can get their right to vote back.
“Bottom line, the amendment to our constitution proposed in SJR 223 is not an improvement over the current disenfranchisement provisions. In fact, it’s worse because it codifies in the constitution criteria that the current Governor and any future Governor has or might reject. We urge the Senate to reject this deeply flawed proposal.”
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