The following statement is from Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, in response to the announcement last night of a primary challenge by Parisa Tafti. Personally, I’m very much looking forward to the debate that’s going to take place in 2019 on these important issues, as I think it will be edifying for voters, myself included, and allow voters to decide which approach to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office we want to see going forward.
While I look forward to formally announcing my re-election bid for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls in the days ahead, I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to respond to Ms. Tafti’s announcement.
It’s interesting that she describes herself as an “Innocence Protection Attorney,” as that is what I’ve been engaged in for more than 30 years – protecting innocent victims from the hell of intimate partner violence, giving voice to the innocent victims whose loved one has been brutally murdered, or providing protection to the innocent elderly couple whose life savings became easy prey for the greedy and the unscrupulous. It’s striking that the word “victim” is not mentioned once in Ms. Tafti’s announcement.
I’ve always believed that I can be a tough prosecutor and reform minded at the same time. As Commonwealth’s Attorney for the past 7 years, I have taken the lead in bringing about meaningful reform while ensuring that the core mission of my office remains unchanged – and that is the principled prosecution of criminal defendants and the vigorous protection of victims’ rights.
From lobbying the Virginia General Assembly to increase the threshold amount that separates a felony larceny from a misdemeanor, to supporting the removal of the mandatory license suspension for first-time marijuana offenses, to supporting expanded criminal discovery, I have been a statewide leader in these efforts. Within my office we make regular use of alternative sentencing and diversion programs to help offenders get back on track.
Not only do I not support mass incarceration, I know no prosecutor who does. Every person who is prosecuted by my office is an individual with a name, a family and a story to tell and a crime they have committed for which they are held accountable. I have never once lost sight of the humanity of any defendant prosecuted by my office. Is the criminal justice system perfect? Absolutely not, and I’ve worked for years and spoken out in support of many reforms. As this campaign begins, I look forward to a meaningful discussion about the issues facing Arlington and the City of Falls Church, not those of Baltimore, Chicago, Baton Rouge, or Los Angeles.