Inside the Fight Over Access to Criminal Case Documents in Arlington

“Since Parisa Dehghani-Tafti launched her campaign to unseat Theo Stamos in the June 11 Democratic primary, discussions over the county’s discovery policy have featured in a candidate debate, a public endorsement, and a public letter opposing Stamos.”

Greater Greater Washington: Our endorsement for Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney: Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

“Ultimately, we believe that Parisa Dehghani-Tafti’s commitment to transparency and accountability will enable the public to better understand the impact of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office on the safety and equity of Arlington and Falls Church.”

The decisions commonwealth’s attorneys make matter. Here’s why.

“Virginians have an opportunity to take action and address these disparities—by asking CAs more questions, demanding better policies, insisting on transparent data collection practices, and holding CAs accountable at the ballot box.”

Letter: Stamos used law as blunt-force instrument

“Parisa Tafti is the only choice on June 11 who is working towards a system of justice that treats kids as kids and views education and rehabilitation as central to its mission.”

Letter: Prosecutor’s office too harsh in dealing with youth

“I do not believe that prosecuting these children helped in any way, nor did it conform with our values in Arlington. Prosecuting children or teenagers as adults is not educational. Such prosecutions have life-long negative, and sometimes dire, consequences. I respect the arguments about keeping charges appropriate made by Tafti, who will have my vote.”

Virginia teen was detained and prosecuted for saying ‘oink oink’ to cop

“Critics say that Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos, who is being challenged in a June primary, has a pattern of treating children too harshly.”

Letter: Tafti will improve, modernize office of prosecutor

“The current commonwealth’s attorney has had years to get the office in shape, and has failed miserably, I found from my firsthand experience. I don’t want others to face what I did. That’s why I’m voting for Parisa Tafti for commonwealth’s attorney in the June primary.”

Letter: School-to-prison pipeline is real, and challenger acknowledges it

“Virginia’s public schools have the highest number of student referrals to the juvenile-justice system in the country, with a rate double the national average. That is astounding.”

Educator PAC endorses challenger in race for prosecutor

“AEA believes that Parisa’s deep commitment to social justice, together with her restorative-justice approach to law enforcement, is just what Arlington Public Schools needs to create a safe, healthy environment in which students and staff can thrive,” the organization said in announcing its endorsement.”

Letter: Tafti will bring progressive voice to the table

“It’s time for a progressive prosecutor who understands that our criminal-justice system jails too many people, many of whom are people of color, low-income people who cannot post bail, and people with addictions and/or with mental illness. Reform begins with a new commonwealth’s attorney.”

Washington Post: Endorsements for commonwealth’s attorneys in Northern Virginia

“Ms. Dehghani-Tafti offers a better choice. Her work on innocence protection gives her unique insights into the criminal-justice system and where improvements need to be made. She is right to want to treat rather than criminalize mental-health problems and drug addiction, and to prioritize crimes such as wage theft and elder abuse over petty, nonviolent offenses.”

Arlington Education Association Endorses Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney

AEA believes that Parisa’s deep commitment to social  justice together with her restorative justice approach to law enforcement is just what Arlington Public Schools needs to create a safe, healthy environment in which students and staff can thrive.

Letter: Stamos is standing in way of criminal-justice reform

“When criminal-justice reformers asked her to stop wasting our limited resources prosecuting thousands of marijuana-possession cases, she told them to “go to Richmond.” But Ms. Stamos herself goes to Richmond as a leader in the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, a powerful lobby that regularly testifies against criminal-justice reform.”

Q&A with 2019 Commonwealth Attorney Candidates

“We need to keep all children, and especially those with disabilities, safe, and the primary way to do that as a CA is to prioritize diversion programs when there is an interaction with the criminal justice system. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve advocated for a mental health docket. We should treat kids like kids, and get kids who need help the services they need.”

Eagles DE Chris Long sheds light on importance of district attorney elections

“They’re disproportionately affecting people of color,” Long said. “You can hit people with the stats all day. A lot of people don’t want to believe stuff, so they’re just going to move the goal posts.”

Why I’m Endorsing Parisa Tafti, by Delegate Mark Levine

“Parisa understands that our safety and sense of security are of the same paramount importance to Arlingtonians as our disposition towards due process and equality under the law. I’m confident she will work to correct – but not shatter – the hapless defendant who is more trapped in life circumstances than dedicated to a life of crime. But I’m also satisfied she will have the full attention of the suffering crime victim seeking a restoration of justice”

Washington Post Op Ed: Arlington’s justice system is not progressive

“A failure to enact meaningful reform is not about any lack of discretion but a lack of commitment to progressive policies that have been implemented — and that have worked without risking public safety — all across the country. Commonwealth attorneys in Virginia can do the same.”

Guest Commentary: We Need a Commonwealth’s Attorney Committed to Reform

“We should be a leader on criminal justice reform, not lagging behind. And I believe we can get there. We can keep our community safe and pursue justice for victims and survivors without sacrificing our values. We can build a criminal justice system that is humane, transparent, and fair. ”

“The Commonwealth’s Attorney Has a Very Holistic Role:” An interview with Virginia Candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

“The Political Report talked to Dehghani-Tafti this week about the goals she has in mind when promising to “dismantle mass incarceration,” about the role she thinks prosecutors and their state association (the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys) play in mass incarceration, and about the reforms she is proposing on youth justice, bail reform, discovery, and other issues”

Meet the Commonwealth’s Attorney Challengers, Episode 1: Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

“I am a longtime Arlington resident.  I’m married with two kids who attend public school in Arlington.  When I was 4 years old, my parents immigrated to the United States, seeking religious freedom.  My parents worked two and three jobs each to make ends meet, but I was fortunate to attend UC Berkeley on a combination of grants, loans, work study and scholarships. I decided to attend law school because a good friend was convicted of a crime he did not commit.”

Letter: Challenger has issues on her side in the race for commonwealth’s attorney

“Another real issue raised during the meeting was whether the prosecutor should avoid certifying children as adults, to show more concern for their future. The widely perceived lack of care and respect by the prosecutor’s office for victims of sexual violence is also an issue of grave concern.”

Letter: Race for Arlington prosecutor should be about policy, not politics

“Ms. Stamos went out of her way to join a lawsuit against Gov. McAuliffe’s efforts to restore voting rights to returning citizens. She called a request by Arlington officials to use her discretion to ease cash bail for poor people ‘silly and misguided.’  She opposed giving people a second chance by expunging marijuana and alcohol convictions that occurred before age 21.”

Letter: Commonwealth’s Attorney contender has right skills for the job

“Today we have a challenger who has 20 years in criminal justice and who understands the urgent need for reform; a position held across a broad political spectrum – not only liberals but conservative libertarians at the Cato Institute and conservative Republicans like Ken Cuccinnelli.”

Arlington’s ‘Habitual Drunkards’: Prosecutors Embrace a Controversial Tactic Impacting the Homeless

“It’s inappropriate, unfair, and it doesn’t work,” Brad Haywood, Arlington’s chief public defender, told ARLnow. “In over 15 years as an attorney, I’ve served as a public defender in two of the few jurisdictions that still actively enforce this law. While I can think of many who owe their sobriety to residential alcohol treatment, intensive outpatient services and the expertise and compassion of mental health professionals, I can’t think of anyone who owes their sobriety to interdiction. Not a single person.”

Video: Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy, Packed House of Supporters, Help Parisa Tafti Kick Off Her Campaign for Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney

Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe aims to unseat Democratic prosecutor who opposed him on felon rights

“Three years ago, Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos bucked her party and its leaders to oppose then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempt to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons by executive order. Now a year out of office, McAuliffe (D) is pushing back. On Sunday, he endorsed Stamos’s primary challenger, a reform-minded defense lawyer named Parisa Tafti.”

Arlington’s Top Prosecutor Draws Primary Challenger, Kicking Off Battle Over Criminal Justice Reforms

“It’s not reform if it doesn’t change anything, and it doesn’t seem to me that she’s actually changing much of anything,” Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow. “And getting rid of cash bail and coming up with alternatives will take a lot of work, and no one size fits all, but it’s not something that gets done in a press release.”

Upstart candidates for prosecutor hope to bring reform wave to Northern Virginia

“Parisa Tafti became a lawyer because a college friend was wrongly found guilty of rape, a conviction that was overturned five years later. Over the past two decades, she has sought to get other innocent people out of prison by challenging the work of prosecutors. Now she wants to become one.”

Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos Draws Primary Challenge From “Lifelong Public Defender and Innocence Protection Attorney” Parisa Tafti

“No social reform aimed at making us a more perfect union – be it employment, housing, voting, mental health care, education, family well-being, or the ever-pressing work for racial justice — can happen without first establishing a fair and humane criminal justice system.”

There’s a Wave of New Prosecutors, And They Mean Justice.

“As prosecutors know, locking people up makes them more prone to committing offenses in the future. They can lose their earning capacity and housing, leaving them worse off, often to the point of desperation. And so the community is often better served by interventions like drug or mental-health treatment, or by restorative justice approaches, in which a person who has caused harm makes amends to the victim. In some cases, the best response is to do nothing.”

Press Releases

The Indisputable Facts – Jail Population

Arlington County’s incarceration rate is 2.5 times that of Fairfax.  We spend tens of millions per year on incarceration, not counting probation, parole, police, and the courts.

The average daily jail population increased 17% between 2015 and 2018. As a competitive election year approached, the average daily incarceration rate significantly dropped, allowing my opponent to conveniently announce that the jail population was at its lowest in five years. Our jail population is still higher per capita than Fairfax County and is still higher per capita than it was at the height of the 1980s War on Drugs.

The Facts – Juvenile Justice

When it comes to kids, our justice system shouldn’t just focus on punishment, but on also on helping the victim heal while helping the rule-breaker turn themselves into the sort of person who will not harm again.”

May Filing Press Release

“From day one, this has been a locally-driven, grassroots campaign, supported and driven by community members that want to see the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office reflect the values of Arlington and Falls Church with Restorative Justice programs that put victims first, smart on crime policies, and a 21st century approach to criminal justice reform.”

The Facts- Diversion

As of May 2019, our drug court serves only 9 people.  Washington County, Virginia, which has roughly one fifth of our population, has a drug court that serves 37, and is expanding to serve 50.”

The Facts- Voting Rights

Just three years ago, my opponent signed onto a brief opposing restoration of voting rights for over 200,000 Virginians who had served their sentences.  She willingly joined a Republican effort to suppress voting rights set to go before Virginia Supreme Court justices who were all appointed by the Republican legislature.”

The Facts – Sexual Assault

“Since 2011, convictions for rape and sexual assault have gone down 73%.  At the same time, reports have gone up 63%.  It’s generally good if more people are coming forward to report, but why are there fewer convictions even as reports rise?”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Should be Impartial

As a reformer, I believe the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney should be impartial because impartiality leads to transparency, which leads to community trust, which leads to public safety for all, including law enforcement officers on the job.”

Dehghani-Tafti to Host Townhall Focused on African-American Issues in Arlington

“Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Democratic candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, will host a town hall focused on African-American issues in Arlington County on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 P.M. at the Walter Reed Community Center, located at 2909 16th Street S.”

Dehghani-Tafti Endorsed By Local Organizations Representing Thousands of Arlington and City of Falls Church Residents

“Today, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti announced that she is endorsed by Blue NoVA. Blue NoVA strives to educate our community on local politics. Its members work together to mobilize Virginians and help elect progressive candidates.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe Endorses Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney

“Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed Parisa D. Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. Tafti is challenging incumbent Theo Stamos for the Democratic nomination on June 11th. McAuliffe’s endorsement marks the first endorsement by a current/former Democratic statewide elected official in this race.”

Press Release: Parisa D. Tafti Campaign Outraises Incumbent in First Finance Reporting in 2019

Press Release: Indivisible Arlington Announces Endorsement of Parisa D. Tafti

Press Release: Gene Rossi, Former Federal Prosecutor and Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Announces Endorsement of Parisa D. Tafti