If you had told me two years ago that I would be writing as the Democratic nominee for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, I would not have believed you. People with my personal and professional backgrounds don’t often run for, much less win, political office.
I came to the United States as an immigrant. Like many immigrants our family struggled with poverty, with a new culture, and unfortunately, with discrimination. But my parents had faith in the opportunities America offered and they believed, above all, in the power of education. Thanks to their sacrifice and with the help of federal grants, I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in Philosophy and Comparative Literature and later earned a JD from New York University School of Law.
I was inspired to go to law school because a dear friend was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit. He spent three years in San Quentin before being exonerated. Since then, for the last nineteen years, I’ve worked to reform the criminal legal system.
I’ve worked as a public defender with the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service, litigating cases of constitutional magnitude; as the legal director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, exonerating innocent individuals in DC, Virginia, and Maryland; and as a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University School of Law, training the next generation of criminal law attorneys.
My platform is rooted in a simple principle: Safety and justice are not opposite values – we can’t have one without the other. I believe:
- Prosecutors should focus on serious crimes that threaten public safety and community well-being, including sexual assault, elderly abuse, and wage theft;
- Prosecutors should support programs that help victims recover from the trauma of crime and restorative justice programs that help reduce crime;
- The default approach for children who make mistakes should be diversion and education;
- People should not be in jail because they are too poor to afford bail;
- Whenever possible, people with disabilities, mental illness, or those suffering from addiction should be offered treatment rather than incarceration;
- It is wrong to continue to saddle people with a criminal record for simple marijuana possession when it has life-long consequences on employment, education, and housing;
- No criminal legal system can achieve justice if it tolerates racial and class disparities;
- People who have served their time should be reintegrated into society as returning citizens with voting rights;
- The government should not take your property without a conviction; and
- The death penalty has no place in a civilized society.
These issues are grounded in sound science and supported by a wide cross-section of our community.
Since the June 11 primary, I’ve been meeting with and listening to our delegates, senators, members of the County Board and the School Board, the police, faith groups, local leaders and activists because I believe listening to their expertise and taking heed of their priorities is key to maintaining safety and pursuing justice.
I started this campaign as far back as February 2018 when it was just me, meeting one on one with members of the community in the early morning hours before work, during lunch breaks – eating on the run, weekends, and late in the evening after putting my kids to bed. I had no name recognition, no staff, and no money but the encouragement I received from so many of you is something I will never be able to repay.
Little by little, I gained the support of advocacy groups, local grassroots groups, and people who normally don’t have a voice in the system. Little by little, we became a movement right here in Arlington and Falls Church before attracting national attention. So, it is deeply encouraging that criminal justice reform is now a central part of every single Democrat running for president’s platform. But, what’s even more encouraging is that our community took the lead on this issue by voting for reform during the Democratic primary this past June and by supporting our local representatives who have long championed reform in Richmond.
I am Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 5 for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church so that we can continue the movement for reform and build a criminal justice system that keeps us safe, treats everyone fairly, and reflects our values.
Editor’s note: “Why Should You Vote for Me” essays by candidates in competitive races in Arlington will run on Monday.
An alleged shooting threat briefly sent students practicing on a school field indoors tonight.
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
(Updated at 6:35 p.m.) Black and Hispanic students remain more likely to be suspended from Arlington Public Schools than their peers, according to new data. Specifically, Black students make up…
Whether it’s T. Swift tickets, cash money, or a prime parking spot, most DMV-area residents agree that time is actually their most valuable currency. A universal experience of car owners…
At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Live standup comedy starring John F. O’Donnell (Comedy Central)
Friday, October 20
Headliner: John F. O’Donnell
John was a correspondent on the radical comedy news TV show, “Redacted Tonight,” for 5 years. Recently, he released his debut one-hour standup special,