Comedian Stephen Colbert devoted part of his Comedy Central show on Monday to a four-star Yelp review of the Arlington County Detention Facility.
Colbert read from the review, which praised the jail for offering juice boxes and a “very clean environment.”
“If you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County,” Colbert said, reading from the review.
“I think Arlington tourism just found its new slogan,” he quipped.
Hat tip to Keith H.
USS Arlington To Be Commissioned – The USS Arlington will be commissioned in Norfolk on Saturday. Fundraising for a 9/11 tribute room on the ship is continuing, as supporters have only raised $362,000 of the hope-for $500,000. [Washington Post, Patch]
Police Seek Wallet Thief — Arlington County Police are looking for a man who stole a victim’s wallet while at a bar/restaurant in Ballston. The man then used the victim’s credit cards at a store on the 200 block of S. Glebe Road. [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Prisoner Assistance Org — A fundraiser was held Thursday for Offender Aid and Restoration, a group that “works in Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church with support programs for those in jail and prison, and assistance when they return to life outside a cell.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
As of 2:30 a.m., 1,734 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington. The outage was said to be centered in the Courthouse and Clarendon area, along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards.
In addition to restaurants and commercial offices, the outage also hit county government buildings in Courthouse. Some of the county’s internal computer networks were said to have been knocked offline by the outage. Firefighters responded to the county jail after the emergency generator reportedly failed to start, leaving the facility in the dark.
Dominion’s web site estimates that power will be restored no later than 7:00 a.m.
More than 100 demonstrators marched through the busy streets of Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse last night in support of immigrant rights and against deportations.
The protesters, assisted by a police escort, marched from George Mason University’s Arlington campus to the Arlington County jail. Holding signs and chanting slogans in English and Spanish, the protesters made their message loud and clear for scores of bewildered bystanders and outdoor diners in Clarendon.
Once at the jail, a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Most condemned the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program while praising Arlington for attempting to “opt-out” of the program.
“Arlington was one of the first communities to opt out of Secure Communities,” said Tenants and Workers United Interim Director Jennifer Morley. “When people who live in Arlington heard about it, they spoke out, the organized. Arlington knows that Secure Communities is not the kind of initiative we want in our community.”
“Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary community!” shouted Johnny Barnes, executive director of the ACLU’s National Capital Area chapter, to loud cheers.
A woman identified as “Elizabeth” tearfully spoke about how she was deported before, but made her way back to the area so she could support her young daughter, who has a heart condition.
Also speaking at the rally was Arlington County Police Capt. Jim Wasem, who spoke on behalf of the department. ACPD Chief Doug Scott has previously expressed concern that Secure Communities could dissuade immigrants from cooperating with police investigations.
Protesters will march from George Mason University Founder’s Hall, at 3351 N. Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, to the Arlington County jail, at 1435 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, where they will hold a rally against the federal ‘Secure Communities’ immigration enforcement program.
The march is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. Organizers expect the rally outside the jail to start at 7:15 p.m.
“Speakers at the rally will include representatives from Virginia, Maryland, DC, New York, Illinois, California and other locales affected by the discredited deportation program,” organizers said in a statement.
The march and rally will coincide with the start of the Turning the Tide National Summit, a three-day pro-immigration gathering that’s being held this year at GMU’s Arlington campus.
Secure Communities helps federal authorities enforce immigration laws by checking the fingerprints of those arrested by local law enforcement through a Department of Homeland Security immigration database.
In September the County Board voted unanimously to attempt to withdraw from the program, saying that Secure Communities “will create divisions in our community and promote a cultural fear and distrust of law enforcement.” County officials eventually determined that it was not feasible to withdraw from the program. A coalition that helped organize local opposition to Secure Communities was later given the county’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award.
Affordable Apartments Get Green Certification — The 36-unit Macedonian apartment complex in Green Valley has become the first EarthCraft-certified new multifamily building in Arlington and the most energy-efficient EarthCraft building in Northern Virginia. The affordable apartments, at 2229 Shirlington Road, received the green building certification thanks to a special central heating and cooling system, foam insulation and other high-efficiency components. The building is a partnership between affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc. and the Macedonia Baptist Church. [AHC Inc.]
Jail to Host Mother’s Day Event — The Arlington Sheriff’s Office will be hosting its bi-annual Incarcerated Mother’s Holiday Program at the county lockup Monday night, one day after Mother’s Day. From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., female inmates will get the chance to have a “contact visit” with their children within the jail. The event will feature a card exchange, dinner and bonding time. “The program is designed to strengthen and encourage mothers to have positive relationships with their minor children to help lessen the impact and effects of separation,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
New Site Fixes and Features – We made some fixes and added some features to the site overnight. Among the changes: the comment problem we described yesterday has been resolved, we’ve added new fields to your user profiles, and the forums are now operational. Note that there are still some bugs to be worked out with the forums and with user profiles, especially for Internet Explorer users. Please let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.
Last month Arlington sent Falls Church a notice that it could owe an additional $2.2 million for use of the Arlington County Detention Facility. At the time, the county said a “clerical error” resulted in Falls Church being undercharged for the housing of prisoners. Falls Church even admitted that it owed the money, according to the Washington Examiner.
Now, the county says “an outside contractor’s software error” resulted in an over-count of Falls Church prisoners. Falls Church only owes Arlington $123,000, the county said in a statement last night.
“Arlington County regrets the error and the difficulties that it posed for the City as it develops its FY 2012 Budget,” Arlington said. “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Department will now report monthly on Falls Church prisoners. The report and applicable prisoner data will be shared with the Falls Church Sheriff for verification.”
The county’s contract for judicial, police and fire department services is up for renewal this year. Arlington says it will renegotiate the contract “to reflect changes in technology, procedures and services that have occurred since 1989, when the City of Falls Church first contracted with Arlington County to provide the City with judicial and public safety services.”
Punxsutawney Phil Doesn’t See His Shadow — Does that mean there will be an early spring in our area? Meteorologists, as usual, are skeptical. [Capital Weather Gang]
Falls Church Admits Debt to Arlington — Falls Church admits that it does, in fact, owe Arlington $2.2 million for shared use of the Arlington County jail. The city did not say how much of the debt it actually plans to pay. [Washington Examiner]
Complaints About Westover Beer Garden Continue — The Westover Market is moving forward with its plan to build a restaurant and bar, despite the fact that people in the neighborhood continue to complain about everything from noise to smoke coming from fire pits in the market’s outdoor beer garden. [TBD]
Arlington Sends Surprise $2.2 Million Bill to Falls Church — Arlington is billing the City of Falls Church an extra $2.2 million for its use of the Arlington County jail, the Falls Church News-Press reported late last night. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields told the paper that Arlington sent the bill after discovering a “clerical error” that resulted in Falls Church being undercharged since 2008. [FCNP]
Lubber Run Renovation in Doubt — Arlington doesn’t have room in its current budget to pay for multi-million dollar renovations to the shuttered Lubber Run Amphitheater, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said at a recent public meeting. However, Donnellan said renovations could, theoretically, become a priority in future budget cycles. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Fighting to Start School in August — Arlington has been persistently applying for a state waiver to start the school year before Labor Day. Each year the county applies, however, it gets rejected. Now, school officials in Fairfax County and Alexandria are also considering applying for the right to start school before Labor Day. [Washington Examiner]
Reasonably-Priced Buffet Spots Profiled — TBD looks at seven of the most “notable” and/or “dirt-cheap” buffet options in Arlington. [TBD]
Zimmerman Talks Metro — County board member Chris Zimmerman, who recently announced that he was stepping down from the WMATA Board of Directors, has given what may be his first comprehensive interview since his surprise announcement last week. Zimmerman echoed his stance that Metro needs more funding to survive, and is at the mercy of “external” forces. “These are not things that are going to be fixed by a magical general manager,” Zimmerman said. “They’re not going to be fixed by any configuration of the board of directors.” More from We Love DC.
APS Students Give Back — A new “Snapshots” video from the county’s educational TV channel takes a look at how Arlington Public School students are giving back for the holidays.
Henry Elementary Student Wins WaPo Contest – Kate Lanman, a second grader at Arlington’s Patrick Henry Elementary school, has won the Washington Post’s annual holiday wrapping papers contest. Lanman, 7, will be featured on the cover of the Post’s weekend section tomorrow. More from the Washington Post.
Jail Gets Energy Star Label — The Arlington County Justice Center — which includes the jail and the courthouse — has become the first county building to be awarded an Energy Star designation. The Justice Center completed an energy efficiency overhaul in 2009. More from Arlington County.
The nationwide law enforcement and public outreach initiative — with the tagline “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest” — will spend more than $7 million on national TV and radio advertising starting Wednesday. It seeks to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes around the holidays. Last year, 753 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during the month of December alone.
Today LaHood highlighted the new “No Refusal” strategy that a number of states are adopting. “No Refusal” allows police officers to quickly obtain warrants from on-call judges in order to get blood samples from suspects who refuse to take a breathalyzer test.
“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” LaHood said in a statement. “I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads.”
LaHood was joined by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland and Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Laura Dean-Mooney at a press conference at the Arlington County Jail. A number of law enforcement officials from around the country were also present at the event, which kicked off at 10:30 this morning.
Virginia has a form of the “No Refusal” strategy currently in place. The state’s “implied consent” law calls for a drivers’ license to be suspended if he or she refuses to take a chemical test when stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on a state road.
Arlington County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick had little sympathy for former Marine Jorge Torrez at the convicted rapist’s sentencing today.
Calling Torrez a “coward,” Kendrick imposed the jury’s recommendation that Torrez serve five consecutive life sentences, plus an additional 168 years in prison. Torrez will also pay a $190,000 fine.
Two of Torrez’s three victims were in court for the sentencing, as was one of the jury members from the October trial.
In her argument before the court today, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said Torrez is a “predator” who made his victims endure horrifying ordeals. The jury “did the exact right thing” by recommending multiple life sentences, she said.
Torrez is currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. He may eventually be transferred to a state prison, or may be sent to Illinois, where prosecutors are forming a case against Torrez in a 2005 double homicide.
Arlington Neighborhoods Host Marathon Events – A number of events are planning in Arlington in connection with Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon. Among them: Crystal City will be hosting a family-friendly race viewing festival, complete with music, face painting, a moon bounce and carnival-like food. After the race, Rosslyn will host the official MCM Finish Festival. Live music, food, a beer garden and a “recovery area” with free massages.
Dan Kain Trophies Closing Up Shop — Today is the last day for an Arlington original. Dan Kain Trophies (2207 North Pershing Drive) is packing up and moving to Merrifield, where the rent is considerably cheaper. The store is trying to sell its remaining trophy inventory, and they’re willing to make a deal for anybody who walks in before close of business today. More from TBD.
Arlington Man Sentenced for Threats — A 27-year-old Arlington man was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for threatening to torture and kill his ex-girlfriend and her family. The man, Kyle McDonald, made the threatening phone calls while serving time in the Arlington County jail for stalking and violating a protection order. The phone calls were recorded by jail officials. More from the Washington Examiner.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Cuccinelli was given a tour of the jail by Sheriff Beth Arthur and county Department of Human Services Chief Cindy Kemp. Arthur and Kemp highlighted the jail’s diversionary, re-entry and education programs, as well as its programs for assisting inmates with mental health issues.
“We welcomed the opportunity to highlight the Arlington County Detention Facility and our partnership with the Department of Human Services in assisting incarcerated individuals,” Arthur said in a statement. “We appreciate Attorney General Cuccinelli’s interest in our operations and the programs that assist individuals with mental health challenges re-enter the community.”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office
An Arlington jury has found former Marine Jorge “George” Torrez guilty of rape and 13 other charges.
From an Arlington County Police Department news release:
ARLINGTON, VA. – The Arlington County Police Department announces the judgment rendered on Jorge Torrez on October 15, 2010. He was arrested in February 2010 as the suspect in an attempted abduction case. He was later linked to an abduction and rape case that also occurred in February.
In the early hours of February 10, 2010, a woman was walking in the 1700 block of N. Quincy Street when a man displaying a handgun approached her. The man indicated that he wanted the victim to get into a car, but the victim resisted. The victim was ultimately told to give the suspect her purse, which she did, and he fled.
On February 27, 2010, around 4 a.m., police responded to the 600 block of North Wakefield Street for a call about an abduction. Two young women were walking to a residence when a man confronted them with a handgun. The suspect forced them inside the house where he restrained them. The suspect then forced one of the victims to leave the house with him and she was forced into the suspect’s vehicle. Four hours later, the victim was found seeking help and medical treatment in a neighboring jurisdiction. She was suffering from serious injuries and was transported to an area hospital.
During the investigation of these crimes, two separate patrol officers recalled seeing, and running the license plate, of a vehicle that matched the description of the SUV used in these crimes. That information lead to the owner of the SUV, Jorge Torrez. This police work was instrumental in the identification and subsequent arrest of the suspect.
A jury returned guilty verdicts on Jorge Torrez this afternoon. He was convicted of 14 charges including three counts of Abduction with the Intent to Defile, three counts of Forcible Sodomy, two counts of Robbery, one count of Rape, one count of Breaking and Entering While Armed, and four weapons charges related to the previous charges. The jury recommended five life sentences plus 168 years and a $190,000 fine. The formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 10, 2010.