Arlington, VA

The Arlington man accused of throwing dogs over an apartment balcony to their death would potentially not serve additional jail time under a proposed plea agreement.

The agreement, dated December 7,  is signed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, but not by the defendant or by his court-appointed attorney Adam Krischer.

ARLnow reached out to Krischer about the status of the agreement, who responded via email that he has no comment. We obtained a copy of the document upon request from the Arlington County Circuit Court, after receiving an anonymous tip about the potential plea agreement.

On January 5, according to documents provided, 27-year-old Zachary changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” — while asserting his innocence, in what is known as an Alford plea — for the charge of animal cruelty.

(ARLnow has decided to withhold the defendant’s last name from this article, despite it being publicly reported in previous articles, due to the mental health-related matters discussed in the plea agreement.)

The judge approved the plea and set the sentencing for February 12. The judge also required the defendant to undergo a substance abuse screening prior to sentencing.

Animal cruelty is a felony offense that carries a 1-5 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. The proposed plea agreement, however, calls for defer disposition for two years, meaning the plea to the felony charge could be withdrawn and dismissed if the defendant adheres to certain conditions.

According to the agreement, those conditions include completing substance abuse evaluation and treatment, undergoing mental health evaluation and counseling, remaining medication compliant, and completing 100 hours of community service.

The defendant also has to remain drug and alcohol free, refrain from owning any animals, and not to have any unsupervised contact with animals beyond those owned by family members.

Additionally, he has to pay restitution of about $1,800, including payments to the owner of one of the dogs that was killed and $567.29 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

If Zachary does all of that, the proposed plea agreement states, the Commonwealth and the defendant will jointly ask the court to withdraw the guilty plea and provide an order of dismissal. If the defendant doesn’t adhere to the above conditions, he could be sent to prison.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Taft was elected in 2019 to be Arlington’s top prosecutor on a platform of reform and restorative justice. In an interview with Arlington Magazine last March, Dehghani-Taft said that the concept of restorative justice is about healing and taking responsibility.

“It asks the person who did the harm to search for change and transforms them into someone who doesn’t do it again,” she said. “It focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”

It’s a concept that also has gained popularity in other local jurisdictions.

When asked for comment about the plea agreement, Dehghani-Taft responded via email that rules “constrains me from making public statements about pending cases… Because the court has not yet accepted any plea, it could be seen as prejudicial for me to say something now.”

In a follow-up email, she stated that “I think the terms in the document the court has published are self-explanatory.”

A statement of facts about the case entered in court describes the April 27, 2020 incident in more detail.

Police responded to a call about two dogs being thrown off a fifth floor balcony of the Meridian apartment building at 1401 N. Taft Street in Courthouse. One belonged to the defendant and the other to his roommate. Both dogs were brought to veterinary facilities and later died from their injuries.

Zachary was detained without incident, but told the officers that he was diagnosed with anxiety and had not been taking his medication. He also said that he had recently smoked marijuana.

The reason for his actions, he told police, was that he wanted to repair his relationship with his roommate and felt the only way to do that was to kill the dogs.

Police spoke to the roommate and Zachary’s boyfriend, who both described the defendant as not acting like his normal self over the prior several days and possibly having a severe mental health crisis at the time.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Va. Supreme Court Passes on Pot Prosecution Case — “The Virginia Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Arlington’s chief prosecutor to rein in judges who are skeptical of her refusal to prosecute marijuana possession. But the court did not resolve the conflict, saying it could not weigh in because it had not been asked to consider any specific case.” [Washington Post]

Big Response to Mailbox — “‘We’ve collected at least probably 500 letters in the two weeks that we’ve had the [Santa] mailbox out,’ Rachael Tolman, the Park Manager at Gulf Branch Park said. ‘It’s a lot of letters.’ The lists some children put in the mailbox looked different, with requests for masks and good health.” [WUSA 9]

Nonprofit Merger Complete — “Bridges to Independence, a Northern Virginia provider of housing and vital services for at-risk families and individuals, has finalized its merger with the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corp., a community-based non-profit with a mission to address the health, education, financial empowerment and social service needs of people living in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood.” [InsideNova]

Pedestrian Struck in Ballston — “Police and medics on scene of a pedestrian struck by a driver in front of the Ballston Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Road. So far, the victim’s injuries sound minor.” [Twitter]

Holiday Pop-Ups in National Landing — “As part of National Landing’s mission to activate public spaces, the BID has unveiled ‘Turn Up the Love,’ a winterlong campaign featuring a series of engaging outdoor pop-ups. These festive installations include a larger-than-life boombox adorned with thousands of colorful ornaments, three shareable photo frames and even more surprises to be announced after the holidays.” [National Landing BID]

Nearby: BB Gun Shootings in FC — “Police investigated calls of vandalism and found a teen who confessed to at least 50 incidents of shooting vehicles and people. Some victims have been identified, but police believe there may be more.” [City of Falls Church]

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(Updated at noon) The Arlington County Circuit Court rejected a plea bargain that would place a Maryland man on two years of probation for allegedly bringing 50 pounds of marijuana and 400 cartridges of hashish oil into the county.

The suspect is accused of arriving on a flight to Reagan National Airport in November 2018 with a checked bag stuffed with drugs. He was arrested by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority at baggage claim.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and the attorney representing the alleged drug carrier agreed that the defendant would plead guilty to two felony charges and be placed on probation, wrote the presiding judge. After completing the probation and 200 hours of community service, he would be able to withdraw the pleas to the felony charges and instead plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges while having a $100 fine imposed but then suspended.

Judge Daniel Fiore, II, in a memorandum of opinion that was obtained by ARLnow, said the punishment would not deter the defendant, or anyone else, from carrying large amounts of drugs into Virginia for distribution.

“Virginia jurisprudence has long and consistently recognized deterrence as means for a court to determine an appropriate sentence, no matter the criminal statute violated,” Fiore wrote. “Deterrence disincentives unlawful behavior both for the individual and for society.”

Excerpts of Fiore’s opinion were published in late September in Virginia Lawyers Weekly. A call to judge’s chambers was not returned. Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow that she could not comment on the case at this point.

This rejected bargain is part of a larger theater taking place across the nation, as some prosecutors are changing their approach to drug crimes and judges are fighting back. The tug-of-war reached Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who signed a law last month that would require judges to dismiss charges when both the prosecution and defense agree to a bargain or deal.

Fiore wrote that he rejected the bargain in part because the prosecution and defense had understated how much marijuana and hashish the defendant had. The amounts, once disclosed, merited prison sentences between five and 40 years and fines of up to $500,000, Fiore wrote.

Focusing on the quantity of drugs strikes Public Defender Brad Haywood as a bit naive, considering the defendant was likely a low-level “drug mule” put in a high-risk situation by higher-level drug traffickers. He might not have known the quantity of drugs he was carrying, as mules often do not, Haywood said in an email, adding that mules are often thought of as victims of drug trafficking.

“They are under duress; fearful for their safety, desperate for money, or desperate to feed their own addictions,” he said. “They are easy to manipulate precisely because they are suffering. They can even be pressured into doing something as irrational as traveling on a plane with tons of narcotics.”

Given the risk involved, mules are often caught, Haywood said. Instead of harshly prosecuting mules, however, the government frequently offers them leniency so they can help apprehend the supplier.

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Morning Notes

Groups to Review Arlington’s Form of Gov’t — “Two citizen engagement groups have launched exploratory projects that delve back in Arlington’s racial history. The Arlington Civic Federation last month assembled a task force to review that and other questions about modernization — such as whether the county manager should be elected. And a new group called the Arlington Alliance for Representative Government is planning to boost political participation through ‘education, policy development, advocacy and innovation.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Latest on Intel Official’s Death — “The wife of a high-ranking CIA operative who shot and killed himself two weeks after their wedding has claimed that he was intending to murder her and ‘take me to the afterlife.’ Sara Corcoran, 46, said that Anthony Ming Schinella, the most senior military affairs analyst in U.S. intelligence, was suffering from PTSD after being involved in four wars, and after almost 30 years in the CIA. Schinella, 52, died on June 14 in Arlington, Vi”rginia.” [Daily Mail]

Dove Rescued from Car Grille — “This very lucky dove is safe thanks to Officer Byrnes! The dove was hit by a car and got stuck in the grille. Officer Byrnes was able to safely remove her and transported the dove to a local wildlife rehabber, who will release her back into the wild when she’s feeling better.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

More on Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Petition — “Dehghani-Tafti’s motion is supported by an amicus brief from 62 prosecutors around the country, including the district attorneys in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. It’s also supported by Jeff Haislip, the Fluvanna County, Va., prosecutor who is chair of the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, and the prosecutors in Alexandria city, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.” [Washington Post]

APS Modernizing Black History Teachings — “Glad to see @APSVirginia will join 15 other school divisions in teaching a new African American History course this fall. Through 1970s VA was using textbooks with images like this, teaching a false narrative about the reality of Black Virginians. Time to tell the true story.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter]

APS Going Back to School Next Week — “Arlington Public Schools will start the 2020-2021 academic year with all-virtual learning for all students. The school will continue with online-only education until at least early October, midway through the first quarter of the school year, at which time officials will assess the possibility of reopening based on public health data.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

No Citations for Mass Gatherings in Arlington — “Gov. Ralph Northam is limiting social gatherings to 50% of event space capacity, or 250 people, whichever number is smaller. A spokesperson for Arlington County says ‘there have been no reports of social gatherings of this size’ in the locality. Arlington County’s police department has not issued any citations for mass gatherings, and has not levied any fines for people who flout rules regarding mask-wearing.” [DCist]

Prosecutor Explains Fight With Judges — “Taking the court to court to preserve the discretion of this office is the only way I know to protect the will of the voters who elected me. This is how we weave the quilt of criminal justice reform: each locality using its voice to demand change and put its values into elected offices. Town by town, county by county, we must fight to shape the communities in which we want to live.” [Washington Post]

Wardian, District Taco Donate to School — “Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian, who recently ran a 62-mile run to all 12 DMV-area District Taco locations, asked District Taco to donate the proceeds of the run to Barrett students and families in need. District Taco employees made and delivered 200 burritos to over 100 Barrett families.” [Press Release]

Parking Blocked Off For Clarendon Bar Lines — A number of nightlife hotspots in Clarendon have been working with the county’s Arlington Restaurant Initiative to better space out patrons waiting in line. This past weekend, the county blocked off portions of lanes and some parking spots around bars to allow more physical distancing around the lines. [Twitter, Twitter]

Thousands Left Behind at DCA Security Lines — “A new… Transportation Security Administration report gives the amount of coins and bills left behind at security checkpoints at airports around the country, including Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. The amount unclaimed at checkpoints at National in the last fiscal year was $13,207.46.” [Washington Post]

Armed Robbery Near Courthouse — “The victim was sitting inside his parked vehicle when the suspect vehicle, which was occupied four times, pulled alongside him. Suspect One approached the victim, displayed a firearm and commanded the victim to exit his vehicle, lay on the ground and empty his pockets. Suspect Two then stole the victim’s personal belongings. Suspect One entered the victim’s vehicle and rummaged through items. The suspects fled the scene after an unrelated vehicle drove by the incident.” [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]

New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]

‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]

Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]

Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]

Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]

Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]

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The owner of the Arlington Smoke Shop in Green Valley says charges have been dropped against the alleged burglar shot by a store employee.

Jowan Zuber said this week on a GoFundMe page for the employee, Hamzeh Abushariah, that the “mastermind of the burglary” was “allowed to walk free” by prosecutors — while Abushariah remains under house arrest, facing serious charges in connection to the March 29 shooting.

Two other alleged burglars are still facing charges, after police say they broke into the store at 2428 Shirlington Road early in the morning and attempted to steal items. Abushariah was sleeping in a backroom of the store at the time, but woke up and grabbed the store’s gun. Zuber says the person who was shot is being “protected” by prosecutors.

“I can’t believe they’re protecting the criminal,” he said last night on Tucker Carlson Tonight, his second appearance on top-rated the Fox News opinion show. “I’m sure if the criminal broke into their house they would be doing 10 years in jail right now.”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, declined to confirm that charges were dropped against the suspect, who — like the other two — are juveniles.

“Based on the ethical rules which govern lawyers and prosecutors, we are very limited in what we can say about cases — and even more limited in what we can say about juvenile cases,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said Monday, in response to an ARLnow inquiry. “The only question I can answer is that the case of the adult (shooter) is still pending.”

ARLnow previously reported that the third suspect had not been charged and was still “in a medical facility” almost one month after the shooting. Zuber told the Daily Caller that he appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Despite the juvenile’s injuries, Zuber said last night that it was not fair for Abushariah to be facing charges and the alleged organizer of the crime to be free, suggesting without additional evidence that there might be a political motivation.

“This is so sad and so shocking, the justice system is not working in Arlington,” he said. “The prosecutor’s office is very upset that I came on your show and spoke the truth and now they’re looking at the whole thing a different way.”

Following a preliminary hearing on July 30, Abushariah’s case is now heading to Arlington Circuit Court. Zuber wants police to release the full surveillance video of the shooting, which he claims shows the now-free suspect “lunging” at Abushariah before the shooting. Prosecutors say the boy was shot “point blank” in the back.

“I hope that Arlington County will share the video exactly,” Zuber said.

Zuber noted that Abushariah is under house arrest and cannot work or take his kids to the park, but still has to pay more than $1,000 per month in child support and fees for his court-mandated GPS monitor. The GoFundMe for Abushariah has raised more than $10,000 since last night’s “Tucker” show, and now stands at $13,349 of a $100,000 goal.

Zuber said the handling of the burglary case sends a bad message to young people.

“Hey you can go rob and steal and the prosecutor will stand next to you and defend you,” he said. “This is sad for justice, this is injustice.”

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Morning Notes

Changes at Prosecutor’s Office — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has announced a reorganization of her office to implement a “vertical prosecution” model. The new structure “requires that one prosecutor be assigned to each case from start to finish; it permits the assigned attorney to work early and closely with law enforcement, victims, witnesses, and defense attorneys.” The office has also recently stopped its courtroom involvement with certain types of minor traffic offenses. [Press Release, Twitter]

Man Pleads Guilty to Arlington Carjacking — “A Washington, D.C. man pleaded guilty today to his role in an armed robbery and carjacking that led to a high-speed police chase and resulted in injuries to two police officers. According to court documents, Jovan Doir Johnson, 30, together with another individual, obtained a stolen vehicle at gunpoint in Arlington and then used it to rob a 7-Eleven in Lorton.” [Dept. of Justice]

Board Approves CIP, Bond Referenda — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to adopt a scaled-down $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan that focuses on continuing or completing projects already underway and beginning a 10-year program to improve the County’s stormwater infrastructure and flood resiliency… In a related action, the Board unanimously approved bond referenda totaling $144.454 million to be put before the voters on the November ballot.” [Arlington County, Washington Post]

Board to Hold Closed COVID Meeting — “Notice is hereby given that the County Board of Arlington Co., VA, on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5:30pm, or as soon thereafter as matters may be heard, in accordance with and for the purposes authorized by law will meet to discuss matters related to the County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Arlington County]

Pandemic May Cause Hunger Crisis — “Up to a quarter of a million people in the Washington area could be thrown into hunger because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Capital Area Food Bank, even as the amount of donated food and the number of distribution sites plummet precipitously.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in Rosslyn temporarily shut down last week after a campaign official tested positive for coronavirus, Politico reported Friday afternoon.

The campaign was chided by local officials last month after Vice President Mike Pence visited and was photographed with a sea staffers, all without masks. Now comes word that the office was recently deep cleaned due to a positive COVID-19 test and worries about the virus spreading in the open floor plan office.

More from Politico:

Inside the Trump campaign’s headquarters this week, a team of cleaners scrubbed down surfaces and disinfected equipment — a recognition that coronavirus has found its way into the heart of the president’s reelection bid, regardless of Donald Trump’s public dismissals of recent risk.

The campaign’s headquarters — located on the 14th floor of an Arlington, Va., office building that shares space with multiple businesses — is normally packed with dozens of staffers, often sitting in close proximity to conduct phone calls and other urgent campaign business, said three people with knowledge of its operations.

But the office was shut down for its first deep cleaning in weeks after a senior campaign official tested positive for the virus. The decision to conduct the cleaning came after two months of flouting the Trump administration’s own public health guidance: There are no face coverings or temporary barriers between desks at headquarters, and leaders have limited efforts to implement social distancing.

The article goes on to note that masks are encouraged for staffers outside of the office — “in case they’re spotted by reporters” — but not inside.

“You get made fun of, if you wear a mask,” one unnamed person told Politico, which is also based in Rosslyn. “There’s social pressure not to do it.”

The article then quotes Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who said last month — in response to the Pence photo — that violations of coronavirus-related safety orders are to be enforced by the state Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.

Dehghani-Tafti told POLITICO this week that she wasn’t aware of any efforts by Virginia officials to enforce safety protections at the Trump campaign’s Arlington headquarters.

“I remain focused on the health and safety of all Arlingtonians and continue to encourage all to social distance, wear face masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain a rigorous regimen of hand washing,” Dehghani-Tafti added.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a fierce Trump critic who represents Arlington in Congress, criticized the campaign again for its reported lax stance toward a pandemic that keeps getting worse in the U.S.

An additional 44 coronavirus cases were reported over the weekend in Arlington, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health, bringing the seven-day trailing rate of new cases to 93 — the highest point since June 14.

File photo via Twitter

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At least six inmates in the Arlington County jail have been released ahead of schedule, following the announcement that a sheriff’s deputy tested positive for coronavirus.

The releases came after the public defender’s office filed motions with Arlington Circuit Court to reconsider the sentences of around 20 inmates, a day after the April 23 announcement. Public Defender Brad Haywood says he also petitioned Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for clemency for 63 local inmates, though that request is still pending.

“We have spoken with the administration and they appear to be taking the request seriously,” Haywood said of the petition. “We are providing more detailed information to them at their request. No movement yet, but we remain optimistic.”

Jails and prisons across the U.S. have been especially vulnerable to spread of the virus, with around 5,000 infections and more than 100 deaths attributable to correctional facilities, according to the CDC.

Coronavirus “spreads easily and aggressively from person to person,” Haywood noted in an April 24 letter to the circuit court. “While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 among the Arlington County Detention Facility’s incarcerated population, because of and as evidenced by the Arlington Deputy Sheriff’s positive test, infiltration is inevitable.

“The risk to inmates is going to persist regardless of how effectively the pandemic is dealt with in the community,” he added. “This is a problem that cannot be avoided, and it is quite literally a matter of life and death.”

Haywood has been assisted in his efforts by Arlington’s top prosecutor, who took office at the beginning of the year after running on a criminal justice reform platform, and the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail. All three have been working to reduce the inmate population during the pandemic.

“Pretty early on, the public defender and I, and the Sheriff and I, got together and realized that what we really needed to do was thin out the jail population, both for the safety of the people who were incarcerated and also for the safety of the Sheriff’s deputies,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, during an online town hall about a week ago.

“We started going through the lists to ask the question, for each person do they really need to be there? So we were pulling files and proactively calling defense attorneys and suggesting they file motions for reconsideration,” she continued. “The public defender was doing this at exactly the same time. We’re lucky that we have a good relationship and so we were talking about the cases and collaborating.”

Despite concerns for the incarcerated, Tafti said it’s not realistic to empty the jails completely.

“Obviously we can’t let everybody out, but trying to get as many folks, and to be as surgical as possible — to ask the question: is this person really going to flee or is this person really going to reoffend?” said Tafti.

There has been a 25-30% reduction in prison population “over the past few months,” according to Tafti. Judges, meanwhile, haven’t always been as receptive to the idea of releasing inmates as the prosecutor’s office. The Washington Post reported in March that at least one Arlington judge was pushing back against recommendations to release certain inmates.

Arlington County police are contributing to the thinning of the jail population, Tafti said, in part by being more selective about who is held in jail and who is released pending trial.

“[Police] are actually issuing summonses more than arresting people, so they’ve tried to pull back that way,” she said. “In the initial bond hearings we’re still trying to be as surgical and careful as possible, and make sure as many people [get bail] as possible.”

Tafti said her office no longer asks for cash bail, but depending on circumstances still has to ask for some detainees to be held. It’s a tough decision, though, given the health risks in jail.

“It’s important that we don’t put them in a position where they’re likely to get sicker when they haven’t been convicted of a crime yet,” she said.

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