Separate Justice

  • The Daily Progress publishes a 6-part investigative series, led by reporter Bob Gibson, entitled “Separate Justice” that took a year to report.
  • The series finds that Charlottesville’s drug laws are extremely racially biased. For example, the judicial system gave black people convicted of cocaine-related offenses an average of 1,074 more days in prison than white people convicted of cocaine-related offenses.
  • The series finds vast racial disproportionalities: Black men ages 18 to 39 were arrested 75 percent of the time, but only made up 16 percent of the population of men ages 18 to 39.
  • The series finds that in court, defendants with a court-appointed lawyer (usually obtained because they could not afford to hire a lawyer), received an average prison sentence 396 days longer than defendants who hire a lawyer.
  • The series finds that federal sentences for cocaine offenses are twice as long as state sentences, and six times as long as federal sentences for burglary crimes.
  • The series finds that black defendants, with no prior convictions, receive an average sentence of 746 more days in jail than white defendants.

Police have been arresting drug suspects at a record clip since 1989, and nine out of every 10 cocaine suspects who have been convicted of felonies have been black. However, national surveys, including a 1988-90 Public Health Service report, show that more whites than blacks use cocaine.

— Bob Gibson, writing for the Daily Progress

The Reimagining of Friendship Court

By Jordy Yager

The redevelopment of Friendship Court is slated to be the largest new construction of low-income housing undertaken in Charlottesville in more than two decades. The plan alone is groundbreaking, having been directly created by current Section 8 residents in partnership with Piedmont Housing Alliance. City staff calls it the most nuanced and complex plan they’ve ever encountered. It ambitiously attempts to balance promises of zero resident displacement with the city’s broader affordable housing needs, while also calling for hundreds of new, likely higher-income, residents to move in, as residents hope to de-stigmatize the lasting effects of poverty born out of generations of racist government policy and neglect.

This year will be the make-or-break year for Friendship Court’s redevelopment efforts. Millions of dollars in city, federal, and private funding stand between the massive plan and the highly anticipated 2020 groundbreaking. And while the green lights have begun to align and most residents are excited, the plan has its critics — those who call for greater levels of resident autonomy, greater security measures to guard against social and cultural displacement, and greater reparations for past wrongs.

In crafting this project, we’ve tried to tackle all of this and more by separating the longer narratives into five major questions:

Part 1: What is the plan?
Part 2: How did we get here?
Part 3: Does mixed-income housing work?
Part 4: Who does Friendship Court belong to?
Part 5: What’s next?

But we also wanted to give you access to as much of our reporting as possible, so we’ve created a timeline that details the history of this area, dating back 150 years, through the use of more than 130 maps, documents, archived articles, and photographs. Similarly, we wanted you to actually hear each of the two dozen long-form interviews we conducted, and not merely the portions we’ve included in the individual stories. So we’ve included more than 300 audio clips throughout the story: in the articles, the timeline, and on each person’s profile page. Our hope is that with all this, more of the picture will begin to emerge, and that, as we stand ready to make powerful and significant changes in the city, we all can help craft the solutions.