We treat defendants as individuals and not just a number on a file. We must make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the crime itself or public safety concerns call for a jail term. Jail isn’t always the answer. We are often better served by other outcomes. I am a proponent of our drug court program. I’d like to see it expanded. Many are in the criminal justice system simply because of their addiction to narcotics. Theirs is a medical treatment issue as much as a criminal justice issue.
It is my honor and my calling to do this job on behalf of all the people of Lynchburg. Since I began here in Lynchburg in 2006 I’ve fought for justice for victims of crime, be they victims of murder, rape, domestic violence or any other offense. I fight equally hard for them no matter their race, color or creed. I treat every defendant as an individual, not a member of a class or group. We must always answer our calling as prosecutors to be a minister of justice for victims and defendants alike.
Helping to make sure every child in this city can grow up and go to school in a safe neighborhood, breaking the cycle of domestic violence and helping stop drug addiction. This requires a multifaceted approach with police, prosecutors and civic leaders. To effectively do this job and take on these challenges it takes an experienced leader in the office, the courtroom and the community. I’m the only candidate with these qualities. I will use them to my fullest ability every day serving this city.
The best options for dealing with lower level crime are diversionary programs that permit the offender to become responsible for their actions while educating them on other options. Diversion programs would ensure that the individual understands the negative consequences of their actions, while giving them support to head in a positive direction. A job referral program, counseling, mentoring, probationary oversight, and/or community service could be options for a just case disposition.
One issue with ensuring equal justice in this diverse City is that the justice system is not diverse. No diversity on the bench, no diversity in the Public Defender's office, and little to no diversity in the police department or the Commonwealth's Attorney's office. Diversity is the answer to implicit biases, and the appearance of a system where the role of minorities is limited to defendants. The Commonwealth's Attorney office should reflect the diversity of our community.
One of the biggest challenges is to instill confidence in the office, letting the citizens know that we are here to protect and serve them, not simply to penalize and punish. I believe we also need to increase crime prevention efforts (i.e. locking doors, street lights, etc.) which would cut down on crime and confirm the communities role in its safety. Many in the community have an adversarial view of law enforcement. To change that view requires real community outreach and meaningful dialogue.