Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
In the upcoming June 11 primary, one of the local races in Arlington is for the Democrat who will run for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. Progressive Voice asked each candidate for this office “What is the main differentiating factor between you and your opponent in relation to progressive values?”
Here are their responses.
Our criminal legal system needs reform, but what does real reform look like? And, can a career prosecutor in the same office for 32 years be trusted to enact real reform?
This we know: the United States incarcerates at a higher rate than any other nation; states account for 90% of incarcerated people; Virginia incarcerates at a higher rate than the national average; and local prosecutors bear primary responsibility for those results.
In Arlington and the City of Falls Church, the Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecuted over 3,200 simple marijuana possession cases in 6 years, 57% of which in the last 2 years were of black people; though only 9% of the county population, black people are 66% of the jail population; the majority of those in jail are on psychotropic drugs; ten year old kids are charged with felonies for school infractions, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney blocks efforts to raise the felony threshold to $1,000, to expunge records of people convicted of minor marijuana and alcohol offenses before they were 21, to restore voting rights to returning citizens, and to prohibit execution of the seriously mental ill.
I will work to eliminate cash bail; expand diversion programs for our youth, and people who are mentally ill, in the grips of addiction, and with special needs; focus on serious crime; use restorative justice to decrease recidivism and help survivors; and share data to make the office accountable.
If I’m fortunate enough to earn your vote this year, in four years, I’ll come back to this page and, instead of a pithy campaign slogan, I’ll show you a reformed justice system that keeps us safe without participating in mass incarceration, criminalizing poverty, penalizing vulnerable people, or tolerating racial disparities–a system you will be proud of and that will reflect our values.
As a Commonwealth’s Attorney for the past seven years, I have been a progressive pioneer on the front lines of the criminal justice system. Whether it was creating Arlington’s first Drug Court program, supporting the creation of our Second Chance program for our youth, expanding criminal discovery or supporting our Bond Diversion program that works to reduce incarceration rates for offenders suffering with mental illness, I have been a leader.
Arlington is a public safety success story because of programs and initiatives I have led on. Second Chance is a robust drug and alcohol intervention program that has diverted more than 500 kids from school suspensions and prosecutions. Our Drug Court, now in its seventh year, helps those on the other side of the spectrum — adults whose lives have been overrun by the disease of addiction. Both programs are built on the belief that we are better off as a community by diverting these folks and getting them the help they need.
I have been a leader in protecting the rights of LBGT crime victims. Long before state law required it, my office insisted that cases of LBGT intimate partner violence be heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court because these relationships deserve equal treatment with other intimate partner relationships in the broader community. And it is through my leadership that Arlington has a state-of-the-art protocol dedicated to improving services to victims of sexual assault which is a model for the Commonwealth.
I have more than three decades of experience promoting progressive values to insure fairness to defendants while never forgetting that the criminal justice system exists to provide justice to victims of crime. I will continue to promote these values if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected your Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Theo Stamos, a life-long Democrat, has served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church since 2011.
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has nearly 20 years of experience in the criminal justice system, as a public defender and innocence attorney who has fixed the system’s mistakes, exonerated innocent people of the most serious crimes, and worked to make the system more fair and accurate. Parisa has lived in Arlington for 12 years with her husband, a Georgetown University law professor, and their two kids who attend public school.
Settlement in Jail Death Case — “Relatives of a man who died in the Arlington County jail and their attorney would receive about $1.3 million in exchange for dismissal of…
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village