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Virginia Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney

The Commonwealth's Attorney in Prince William County serves the county as well as Manassas City and Manassas Park City.The commonwealth's attorney is the chief prosecutor for the county and cities representing the government in criminal cases. The district attorney investigates crimes, decides whether or not to bring charges against suspects, negotiates plea bargains, tries cases before juries or judges and may recommend the sentencing of offenders.

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    Amy K. Ashworth
    (Dem)

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    Michael C. "Mike" May
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What changes to prosecuting, sentencing and incarceration do you support or oppose for adults, and for juveniles?

What strategies would you propose to reduce recidivism in our local criminal justice system?

What,if any, parameters of legalization or decriminalization of marijuana do you believe would be appropriate in Virginia?

What personnel changes would you make, and how, in the Commonwealth's Attorney's office to advance diversity that will reflect the culture of Prince William County?

What criminal justice measures would you take to help overcome substance abuse and related crimes in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park?

education/Degrees B.B.A. from James Madison University, 1992 J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, 1995
experience Practicing attorney for 24 years, PWC, Manassas and Manassas Park - 1995-2005: Criminal Defense Atty, Guardian ad litem for children, part-time prosecutor; 2005-2016: Asst. Commonwealth's Atty, Special Victim's Unit; 2005-present: Adjunct professor, GMU; 2016-present: Managing Partner at law firm
hometown West Chester, PA
It’s not enough to be “tough” on crime; we need to be “smart” on crime. I would focus resources on prosecuting the crimes that cause the most harm rather than simply locking people up. We cannot incarcerate our way to a safe community. We must look at each case and evaluate it based on its merits. We must also pay special attention to juvenile offenders to prevent them from becoming adult offenders. I would appoint a special prosecutor specifically to oversee cases involving juvenile offenders.
I would implement specialized dockets (such as drug courts, mental health dockets, veterans’ dockets) and oversee that treatment options are being utilized that benefit an individual and encourage law-abiding behavior. We must involve community partners to ensure that previously incarcerated people are not set up for failure upon returning to our community. Programs such as GED, substance abuse treatment, counseling and job training would help significantly in reducing recidivism rates.
I support both the legalization and decriminalization of simple marijuana possession for adults in Virginia. We also must have laws in place that protect children from obtaining and using marijuana. Until the laws outlawing marijuana change, the Commonwealth's Attorney, who takes an oath to uphold the law, cannot ignore that law and must prosecute the cases. However, I believe that the vast majority of simple marijuana possession cases can be diverted from the criminal justice system.
I think it is paramount that the prosecutors and staff in the office are stakeholders in the community who reflect the diversity of the community. In order to accomplish that, I will not only advertise all available positions, but actively recruit from minority bar associations and law schools to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to seek open positions in the office. I would also implement internship programs to expose future lawyers to careers in prosecution.
I would utilize a drug court or specialized docket with a prosecutor that understands the challenges facing those addicted to substances and their families while still holding people accountable for their actions. I would work with county leadership to fund increased mental health treatment, as substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand in hand. Our jails and prisons are the last places we should be sending people with these issues, as many such offenders are nonviolent.
education/Degrees BA, College of William & Mary, Govt/Spanish JD, George Mason University School of Law
experience Occoquan District Supervisor, Prince William Board of County Supervisors (2007-2016) Owner/Managing Partner-May Law, LLP 15 year Trial Lawyer handling criminal, civil and family law matters Named ‘Legal Elite’ by Virginia Business Former Legislative Counsel for Congressman Tom Davis
hometown Springfield, Virginia
The role of prosecutor in the criminal justice system is to bring justice through fairness and due process. As CA, I will ensure 1) greater transparency in prosecutions through policies such as open file discovery; 2) alternatives to incarceration whenever appropriate (as with juveniles); 3) a focus on violent crimes; and 4) equal treatment in each case, with every defendant. These objectives are best accomplished by a leader who has not come from inside the established prosecutorial system.
We can reduce recidivism by ensuring re-entrants have opportunities once they have served their sentence. If a person is released and cannot find a job, it becomes impossible to move forward. I will partner with civic groups, the faith community, and other stakeholders to support programs that work for those who want to turn their life around. I also support diversion programs and alternative dockets as permitted by state law, and will invest heavily in crime prevention to reduce recidivism.
While marijuana legalization/decriminalization is up to the legislature, the elected CA should focus on how to deal fairly with those charged with marijuana possession. I will divert these cases as permitted under Virginia law in first-time possession cases. I would support legislation to allow expungement of this crime from the offender’s record, and adding statutory diversions beyond one-time offenses. The prosecutor must enforce the law and cannot make law or change it on his/her own.
When I am elected, we will modernize hiring practices by publicly advertising positions so all qualified attorneys will have equal opportunity compete for jobs to serve our community. We will recruit from minority bar associations, law schools, colleges and even high schools to encourage young people to consider a career in law enforcement and make a positive difference. Once we implement these changes, we will see the office more accurately reflect the diversity of the community it serves,
Addressing substance abuse issues in our community starts with education. I will partner with our schools and support initiatives that keep our kids away from drugs in the first place. I will also work closely with our CSB and other stakeholders to ensure that those who enter a cycle of drug abuse and addiction find a path to break the cycle. Finally, I support diversion opportunities related to drug offenses to get people the treatment they need as opposed to punishing them.