Restoration of Rights
Theo supports the restoration of voting rights and always has. She has worked for the last several years with Arm & Arm, an Arlington-based organization dedicated to helping our returning citizens integrate back into our communities. In response to McAuliffe’s executive order, Theo and a bipartisan group of Commonwealth’s Attorneys asked that our then-governor achieve the goal of restoring rights in a manner that followed the law. The en masse restoration put violent felons on a fast-track to having their gun rights restored which I found to be hugely problematic. In addition to this oversight, too many individuals whose rights were restored were still on probation, owed restitution to crime victims, and in some instances, were still incarcerated at the time their rights were restored. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed with Theo's position and the governor took the appropriate steps to comply with the Court’s ruling.
The way Theo’s office engages with our juvenile justice system is by working to prevent minors from receiving a conviction. Second Chance is a perfect example of how Theo diverts juveniles from the criminal justice system and keeps kids in school. Second Chance is a substance use prevention and early intervention program for middle and high school students that gives participants the opportunity to avoid being charged with a criminal offense. From 2007 to 2017, arrests of Arlington juveniles declined from 292 in 2007 to 181 in 2017, according to the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.
Theo’s campaign is funded primarily by our community of voters. Arlington and Falls Church have a long history of being an engaged community that thrives on dialogue amongst institutions, non-profit partners, our family, friends and neighbors. The imposition of national talking points and out-of-state PAC money on our community does not serve to educate or inform; it serves to further divide us and drive us further into our corners.
No one should ever be incarcerated pre-trial who does not present a risk of flight or a danger to the community. In reality, Less than 10% of the Arlington jail population is unable or unwilling to make bail. Theo supports legislative reforms and funding for alternatives so that no one is sitting in jail simply because they cannot pay. Theo is committed to working with the local delegation and others in Richmond to expand the use of pre-trial services that help ensure individuals released with a cash bond remain law abiding and show up for their court date.
Mass incarceration is not a problem in our community. Effective policing, smart persecution, and Theo’s implementation of alternative sentencing and diversion programs have led to the lowest jail population in five years and the lowest recidivism rate in Virginia.
Theo's office never inquires as to the immigration status of any crime victim or witness. Whether undocumented or here as a legal resident, it is of no moment in seeking justice for immigrants who are often preyed upon by members of their own community, as well as the community at large. Theo's office routinely works with immigrant rights lawyers in approving U-Visas for undocumented individuals who assist in the prosecution of offenders, helping us hold them accountable for wrongdoing. It is especially gratifying to sign a U-Visa for a woman victimized by an intimate partner who nonetheless has the strength and stamina to testify in court and seek justice for her and her family and thereby gain the opportunity to remain in this country legally.
Under Theo's leadership, Arlington's first Drug Court has entered its 6th year. Drug Court is a sentencing alternative program empowers those addicted to these powerful drugs to get back on track and avoid incarceration while giving them the needed tools to stay clean and sober and become law-abiding citizens. Participants appear weekly in court, undergo regular drug screening, and participate in a program of rigorous community supervision. Graduates leave the program much better equipped to avoid substance abuse and go on to lead productive lives free from dependence and criminal behavior.
Sexual Assault Response Team Manual
At Theo's instigation and for the first time in Arlington County, a multi-disciplinary, cooperative effort dedicated to improving services to victims of sexual assault resulted in a state-of-the-art manual, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Protocol. This initiative strengthens our community's ability to investigate and successfully prosecute sexual assault cases and brings offenders to justice. The Arlington SART works across agencies to create a consistent and coordinated response to sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Having a strong SART in a community is associated with greater victim participation in the criminal justice system, as well as fewer reporting delays, better collection of forensic evidence, more arrests and stronger prosecutions.
For the entirety of Theo's service as the elected Commonwealth's Attorney, criminal defendants have benefitted from her office's "open file" discovery policy. Under the current Virginia Supreme Court rules, a criminal defendant is not entitled to review copies of police reports, detective supplements, or witness statements related to their case unless it contains what's known as "exculpatory evidence." This limited form of criminal discovery is unfair to defendants. As a result, Theo adopted a far broader, "open file" policy. Theo continues to advocate for expanded criminal discovery statewide.