The Virginia Holistic Justice Initiative provides data-driven, technology-assisted solutions to end the incarceration of nonviolent offenders in the criminal justice system.
Tom Barbour, Executive Director, and J Hess, Chairman
What does a typical day look like for you?
I (Tom) am up as early as 4 a.m. working on VAHJI before I head to court to litigate criminal cases as a defense attorney. The rest of my day is a mix of the criminal casework that led me to form VAHJI and the social work that VAHJI intends to scale with technology-assisted solutions. When the standard business day ends, I’m fundraising until around 8 p.m., when I slow down to spend time with my beautiful fiancé, either at our home in Church Hill or by exploring Richmond. If I’ve been exceptionally lucky, I’ve squeezed in a run and some reading. It’s always a full day for a full life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What inspired you to start your company?
As a former Richmond prosecutor and policy advisor to the former Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, I learned all too well that the criminal justice system isn’t organized to provide public safety returns on the significant human and financial costs it incurs. Especially by over incarcerating nonviolent offenders, the system perpetuates the conditions that sustain longterm crime trends. My co-founder, J Hess, a Senior Public Defender for the City, and I formed VAHJI to provide data-driven, technology-assisted solutions to address these problems by working to end the incarceration of nonviolent offenders in the criminal justice system.
What are your favorite things to do?
Exploring Richmond with Julia is my favorite thing to do. That, and reading more books at the same time than I probably should.