Creating a Community-Focused Justice System
The decisions made by the Commonwealth’s Attorney often have a direct and substantive impact on the lives of those that call Fairfax home. With this responsibility in mind, the Commonwealth’s Attorney must be a visible and accessible fixture in the community. As your Commonwealth’s Attorney, Steve will be at your community forums, block parties, and HOA meetings. He’ll invite you to tell him your experiences with the criminal justice system and your ideas to improve it. He’ll engage honestly with everyone regardless of their skin color, their zip code, or how much money they make.
Being the Commonwealth’s Attorney isn’t just another legal job. The job of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to represent the community and ensure the criminal justice system reflects the community’s values. Steve will do that. He doesn’t want to be just a Commonwealth’s Attorney; Steve wants to be your Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Too few people know what happens in our criminal justice system. Steve thinks that needs to change. Our criminal justice system affects too many lives and too much of our community to be shrouded in mystery. As a member of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel, Steve fought to bring greater transparency and attention to the County’s criminal justice system. He’ll do the same as your Commonwealth’s Attorney. Steve will collect and distribute information regarding the statuses of his office’s priorities. With Steve as your Commonwealth’s Attorney, you’ll know exactly what the office is trying to achieve and how close it is to meeting its goals.
Moving Past “Tough on Crime” Policies
Tough-on-crime policies are short-sighted and hurt our community. They create a community-wide cycle of decreased opportunity, increased poverty, and increased crime. People who are unnecessarily criminalized, lose their jobs and can’t support their families. Even after they’re released and have “serve the time”, it’s harder to find decent work, making it that much more difficult to make an honest living.
The hardships resulting from tough-on-crime policies don’t fall solely on the people unnecessarily incarcerated. Tough-on-crime policies feed multiple generations of hardships. Kids who have a parent in jail become worried about where their next meal is going to come from, instead of their schoolwork, their community and their futures. Due to the increased community poverty caused by tough-on-crime policies, even kids in the community whose parents are not involved with the criminal justice system will be living in higher-crime neighborhoods and attending overburdened schools. The tough-on-crime ethos snuffs out those kids’ futures before they can even get started. Those are kids with talent who should be the next generation of leaders in Fairfax County, but their opportunity and potential faces obstacles because of short-sighted tough-on-crime policies.
Steve will work to create a smarter criminal justice system that will produce the just, equitable, and forward-looking Fairfax County we want. A smarter criminal justice system will allow our neighbors to reach their full potential, regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how much money they have. The activation of talent that would be wasted in a tough-on-crime administration will drive Fairfax County forward and benefit all of us. This smarter criminal justice system will also keep us safe though true justice—the kind of justice that breeds opportunity and rebuffs the inequality and poverty that create crime.
Fair and Transparent Law Enforcement Oversight
While most officers are conscientious and take their oaths to protect and serve seriously, abuses do happen. Fairfax County deserves a Commonwealth’s Attorney who will recognize good policing and stand up to bad policing. Steve’s work on the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel has proven his ability to fulfill this difficult duty. As Commonwealth’s Attorney, Steve will continue to be an independent reviewer of police conduct. Steve won’t prosecute cases that rely on abusive or discriminatory police actions, and he’ll prosecute police misconduct if and when it becomes necessary. Regardless of the circumstances, Steve will advocate for the idea that our community demands good, community-informed policing.
Protecting Immigrant Communities
As a federal prosecutor, Steve protected immigrants from criminals who targeted them due to their immigration status. He’ll do the same thing as your Commonwealth’s Attorney. Steve knows that regardless of immigration status, all our neighbors deserve equal protection of, and equal access to, the law. The fear of law enforcement that Donald Trump has fostered in immigrant communities does nothing but lead to increased crime. When communities are reluctant to seek out law enforcement help, those communities become high-value, low-risk targets for criminals. When entire communities are afraid to testify, dangerous criminals who should be incarcerated get put back on the street. Steve will do everything in his power to make his office a safe place for everyone, regardless of their immigration status.
In addition to providing a safe place, Steve’s office will take immigration consequences into account when making charging and plea decisions. Although prosecutors typically refer to immigration consequences as “collateral consequences,” avoiding the unnecessary destruction of families and communities will be a top priority for Steve as Commonwealth’s Attorney. Wherever possible, Steve will make charging and plea decisions that limit or avoid immigration consequences. Following such a policy will keep our communities united and strong and demonstrate our County’s commitment to equal justice for all. If two people commit the same crime, but only one’s punishment includes deportation, that’s a perversion of justice and not a reflection of the values of Fairfax County.
Break Down Barriers to Smart Reform
Although the Commonwealth’s Attorney is the most powerful actor in our county’s criminal justice system, the state legislature has a significant impact too. When considering criminal justice bills, the state legislature hears from tough-on-crime prosecutors, red-district law-enforcement officials, and reactionary groups. Those groups hold too much sway in Richmond, and the result is regressive criminal justice laws and impediments to much-needed reform.
Steve wants the state legislature to hear from advocates of smarter justice. Steve will engage the state legislature in efforts to convince them to push our criminal justice system in a smarter direction. He’ll support reform efforts throughout Virginia and look to build coalitions with other forward-thinking prosecutors so that the reform movement amplifies its power in Richmond.