PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY
As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I oversaw the largest expansion of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in over a century. The safety of the citizens of Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park are my top priority.
Our office has grown from 27 prosecutors and 13 administrative staff to 38 prosecuting attorneys, 2 staff attorneys and 17 administrative staff. We have added structure to the office, creating five divisions that focus on the crimes that cause the most harm to our community:
Those who endanger our community are being held accountable to a higher standard than ever before in the history of this jurisdiction.
FAIRNESS AND EQUITY
In order to prioritize the safety of our community members, we must ensure the administration of justice is fair and equitable.
As Commonwealth's Attorney, I have enforced a comprehensive non-discrimination policy in the office that includes every protected class in Virginia. It is extremely important to me that our jurisdiction be a safe and inclusive place for members of the community, for defendants to stand trial, and for victims of all walks of life to come forward.
Across the country, people of color are disproportionately arrested and charged with crimes. To counter this trend in our community, I have worked closely with local law enforcement and community leaders to make sure the justice system has the knowledge necessary to support the fair administration of justice in Prince William County.
The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney hires attorneys and staff who live in and truly represent the diversity of our community. Attorneys and staff at the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office must abide by our core values of fairness and equality. Our staff and attorneys reflect the community we serve. We speak many languages including Spanish, French, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, and Memoni. Many of our prosecutors and staff live in our community and a few even grew up here.
We are a multicultural, multiracial office and works together to protect and safeguard our community.
In order to further address inequality in the justice system, I have limited the use of cash bonds in cases where a person is being held prior to their trial date. In cases where a person is NOT considered a danger to the community or themselves, we look for other methods of supervising individuals who are considered a flight risk without the use of cash bonds. Cash bonds put many families in extreme financial jeopardy and disproportionately harm people and communities of color.
In 2022, nearly one-third of executions in the US have been suspected of being carried out improperly. Additionally, the death penalty has been shown to disproportionately affect low income individuals and people of color.
I fought to repeal the death penalty in Virginia and supported legislation that was finally passed in 2021 to do just that. Virginia is the first Southern state to ban capital punishment.
When a Juvenile offender enters the justice system, we can change the trajectory of their lives and prevent them from offending in the future – if we pay close attention to them right now.
As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I appointed a team of prosecutors specifically to oversee cases involving juvenile offenders. They are tasked to ensure that the fair and appropriate disciplinary actions are taken, and that measures are in place to make sure the juvenile does not reoffend.
To prevent juvenile offenders from becoming adult offenders, we must understand that young people are not neurologically fully developed and need our help and support to learn from the mistakes they have made. They’ve worked with community partners to help fill in the needs for juveniles and their families that need assistance.
The outcome has been wonderful – seeing a child learn from their mistakes and make better decisions, avoiding a life of crime as an adult is one of the greatest joys of this profession.
MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I worked alongside the Circuit Court to create the County’s first Drug Court. The Drug Court identifies those in the criminal justice system whose primary disfunction is related to drug or alcohol abuse. With intensive monitoring and their desire to become free of addiction, we can leverage the criminal charges against them to create an environment where everyone wins.
Our office also maintains close monitoring of cases involving anyone suffering from mental illness with a control docket designed to ensure that they are getting prompt access to mental health professionals to evaluate their competency level and identify treatment needs and ensure that the community remains safe from any future criminal behavior.
We are also very proud of our Veteran’s docket that recognizes the hardship that serving in the military creates on individuals and allowing Veterans’ with mental health issues or substance abuse issues to work with counselors and therapists to deal with the trauma many veterans have suffered which resulted in criminal activity.
It is critical to divert nonviolent offenders away from the prison system and into educational, rehabilitation, and psychological care programs. Diversionary programs provide a benefit to the local community, to the individuals who participate in rehabilitation, and to the taxpayer.
Our office is always looking to expand the divisionary programs that can steer first time non-violent offenders out of the criminal justice system while still holding them accountable for their actions and ensuring that they remedy the wrongdoing of their actions. Diversionary programs can remedy situations by helping an individual who is struggling without further burdening them (or their families) with incarceration. When an individual does not pose a threat to our community, my office has many remedies outside of incarceration.
Not only are diversionary programs critical to the fair administration of justice, they are also cost effective for the taxpayers.
My office combats payroll fraud and wage theft by prosecuting offenders, including employers in our county, that violate the law and harm law abiding business owners and workers and their families.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is focused on crimes that do the most harm, which includes crimes where employers are taking advantage of workers and their families.
As Commonwealth's Attorney, I and members or my office have participated in multiple expungement clinics throughout our community helping those with criminal arrests on their records clear their names.
An expungement is a civil legal action filed in the Circuit Court that removes a charge from a person’s criminal record when the accused was found not guilty or for other reasons the charge was dismissed or nolle prossed (for example, there was insufficient evidence to prove the case).
Often, just the arrest record can prevent people from getting employment or housing. The expungement clinics allow people to get their records expunged with the help of the Clerk’s Office, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the private defense bar, and the Sheriff’s Department, all of whom come together at the clinic to walk people through the process.
RESTORATION OF VOTING RIGHTS
I have always supported, and will continue to support, restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time and repaid their debts to society.
We should not keep punishing non-violent law-abiding citizens after they have served their sentence.
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