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tomrvaca195 karma

In creating public safety, I think we have to address really two categories of people who find their way into the justice system -- people who pose significant risks of committing crimes against persons and those who do not.

In employing prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors have to make judgements about which category accused persons fall into -- currently, that is often done by feel rather than by any systemic, evidence-driven approach to decision-making.

To address this, I will establish one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration: an assessment of the recency, frequency, and severity of an individual’s history of corroborated allegations of crimes against persons. In both bail and sentencing hearings, prosecutors will only advocate to incarcerate individuals assessed as being high risk for crimes against persons based on their individual, corroborated, historical conduct.

For persons posing these risks, my office will focus on prosecuting significant violent crimes, such as:



-Armed Robberies & Carjackings

-Sexual Assaults

-Residential Burglaries


These are significant crimes against persons and key personal spaces that tend to do the most damage to individual and community senses of personal and public safety. Prioritizing their investigation and prosecution will ensure that policing and prosecutorial resources are applied to achieve the greatest public safety benefit.

But the overwhelming, vast majority of accused persons do not present these risks. For these people, prosecutors will advocate for community-based outcomes to create alternative pathways for personal accountability and harm reduction.

Prosecutors will follow internal office guidance for advocating for such alternatives to ensure that the following criteria are incorporated:

-Holistic, individual assessments of root causes and referrals to local services that address them

-Broadening the scope of referrals from City or court-managed programming to new partnerships with local resources, nonprofits, and other government and private service providers to achieve a truly systemic, social-services approach to criminal justice

In this way, those who pose risks of significant danger will be prioritized for prosecution ending in incarceration -- those who do not, will be prioritized for prosecution ending in referrals for services to reduce their likelihood of recidivism.

Through this dual, person-centered, risk-based approached, short-term violent risks will be mitigated -- while longterm public safety is created over time.

People go through real trouble in their lives deserving of real attention. And I believe that the evidence-driven creation of longterm public safety demands a fundamentally different, community-driven, social services approach to criminal justice that keeps us safe by respecting the humanity of everyone involved.

tomrvaca145 karma

No, but now I'm really hoping that our Deputy Field Director who set this up did -- and this is his title -- DUN DUN!

tomrvaca136 karma

I run my own criminal defense practice in Richmond and I know that my clients are intimidated into accepting plea deals especially when prosecutors over-charge and employ mandatory minimum sentencing.

I would ensure that charging is commensurate with the available evidence, only, and I would decline to employ mandatory minimum charging postures.

I will also employ an internal appeals process for prosecutorial discretion accessible by defense attorneys who have concerns for the actual innocence of their clients to ensure real-time integrity of convictions.

If you'd like to learn more about my stance on how prosecutors should negotiate in good faith, please consider my First 100 Days agenda on my website, specifically, the sections,"Charging Postures & Plea Negotiations," "Real-time integrity of convictions & prosecutorial discretion," and "Ending mandatory minimum sentences"

tomrvaca96 karma

I think you should understand that my answer to your question comes from what I expect would be a unique set of experiences among the prosecutors who give rise to your concern:

I'm not just a former prosecutor or a current defense attorney, a founder of a nonprofit dedicated to ending mass incarceration through social work, and a public safety innovator -- I am a former security professional:

I spent (6) years as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a foreign military advisor. This means I took small teams of Marines and embedded with Iraqi Army and with Afghan Police and operated with them in their villages and towns, trained them, advised them, and held them to a high standard of performance in their communities.

When other prosecutors look at a police officer, or a tactical situation in the street in which a police officer has exceeded authority for use-of-force or otherwise acted in ways unbecoming an officer, I'm confident they see a member of their local law enforcement team.

But what I see is a security professional who must be held to account to ensure the public has faith that its policing system will ensure the rule of law prevails.

You talk about me avoiding pressure from police -- I think you ignore who the police work for: the people. And as the CA in Richmond, so would I.

My experience in leadership is that setting a new, high standard of performance is not easy -- but it is worthwhile over time because it shifts culture and expectations to a better place.

Frankly, I would welcome the pressure -- and a public conversation on these issues -- I think it needs to be had.

tomrvaca96 karma

Yes -- prosecutors are guardians of, and advocates for, a fundamentally fair process that upholds the rule of law and creates public safety -- we are not partisans or advocates for any one side.

Perjury in Virginia is a felony -- in the situation you've described, the officer would be prosecuted and the presumption would be that a jury trial would be had -- especially with regard to this type of criminal conduct by police officers that undermines the trial process, the community must be empowered through litigation to decide how to hold them accountable.

If you'd like to learn more about my stance on prosecuting police misconduct, please consider my First 100 Days agenda on my website, specifically, the sections, "Prosecute police misconduct," "Do Not Call List," and "Civilian review board & criminal misconduct by law enforcement"

You can also get deeper insight into my thought processes on police accountability by considering this interview in Virginia Scope