Home 2023 Elections Two Prosecutors in Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Make the Case for...

Two Prosecutors in Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Make the Case for Reelecting Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

"These reform policies work, and they make us all safer. The numbers bear this out."

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by Nassir Aboreden and Jeff Overand, current prosecutors in the office of Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

On June 11, 2019, the voters in Arlington County and the City of Falls of Church made a decision to reform our criminal justice system. We made a choice to embrace community safety, victims’ rights, and a more equitable administration of justice.  We elected Parisa Dehghani-Tafti as our Commonwealth’s Attorney to change the failed policies embraced and championed by the prior administration and by her current Democratic primary challenger, Josh Katcher.

As current prosecutors in Parisa’s office, and residents of Arlington County, we urge the voters to protect our progress.  Although we come from different backgrounds and experiences, we both chose to work for Parisa based on her vision of what a prosecutor’s office and a criminal justice system could be.  Mr. Overand was a career defense attorney and Mr. Aboreden is a career prosecutor.  Both of us now serve as Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorneys.

The course we chose on criminal justice reform has paid off. Earlier this year, Arlington was ranked as one of the safest cities in America[1]. Our office takes a higher percentage of cases to trial than the prior administration and we have a significantly higher success rate. We have consistently referred cases to diversion programs that allow us to address the root cause of crime. In spite of this success, Mr. Katcher is campaigning on a false narrative that somehow our office is in disarray.

Our office has become a national model for criminal justice reform.

The prior administration, again, championed by Josh Katcher, utilized mandatory minimum jail sentences as a threat to coerce individuals to plead guilty for fear of a lengthy period of mandatory incarceration. Parisa put an immediate end to the practice of leveraging mandatory minimum sentences.

The prior administration required licensed attorneys to sit in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for sometimes hours and hand-write the limited discovery provided. Parisa immediately implemented a discovery policy that enables our office to share discovery electronically.

The prior administration frequently sought to treat juveniles as adults.  NIH research shows that “the brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid to late 20s.”[2] Parisa promised to treat juveniles as juveniles. We have focused on holding juvenile offenders accountable for their actions while at the same time, connecting them with the services they need to become productive members of our community.

Our office has also worked to utilize deferral and diversion programs for those individuals struggling with their mental health and substance abuse disorders, focusing on rehabilitation instead of simply incarceration.

We have shifted our focus to the prosecution of serious violent crimes. We have the privilege of working with professional and dedicated law enforcement agencies in Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. With our law enforcement partners, we have secured life sentences for murderers, serial rapists, and individuals who abuse children.

These reform policies work, and they make us all safer. The numbers bear this out.

Under the previous administration, heralded as a “shining example” of success by Katcher, the conviction rate between 2015-2019 for all jury trials was 57%. In Parisa’s office, that number is 72%. For violent felonies, including robbery, murder, or malicious wounding, the prior administration had a conviction rate of only 35%, meaning that 65% of the time, someone charged with a violent felony was not held accountable because the prosecutor couldn’t prove their case. Our conviction rate for violent felonies is 68%. These differences are dramatic and they keep our community safe.

Josh Katcher has one goal: to win the office he has always coveted.  He will say and do anything to accomplish that goal.  He has recently branded himself a reformer, the facts show he is anything but. Katcher regularly boasts about his 11 years as a prosecutor, supporting the previous administration through two full terms.  He never once spoke out against their regressive tactics. Rather, he campaigned for and supported the reelection of the prior Commonwealth’s Attorney. He continues to receive financial and organizational support from her supporters, as well as Republicans, in advance of the Democratic primary on June 20th.  That is not real reform.

When Parisa took office, Josh paid lip service to reform. Parisa took him at his word and he was promoted to a leadership position in the office.  Instead of working to make real reform succeed, Josh spent his time furthering his own agenda by stirring up discontent, encouraging attorneys to quit, and actively undermining the mission of reform.

Parisa made a mistake trusting Josh Katcher.  On June 20, do not do the same. We ask the community to help us build on the progress of the last three years which has kept us safe while delivering a more equitable administration of justice.  We support the re-election of Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and hope you will join us to protect our progress.

[1] https://www.arlnow.com/2023/02/10/arlington-is-one-of-the-safest-localities-in-america-new-study-suggests/

[2] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/sites/default/files/documents/health/publications/the-teen-brain-7-things-to-know/teen-brain-7-things-to-know.pdf

 

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