Editor: As the parent of two teenagers who were born and raised in Arlington, I’ve closely followed the race to see who will represent us as commonwealth’s attorney, particularly how incumbent Theo Stamos has portrayed her record.
She has been accused of running an office that over-prosecutes, focuses on punishment rather than on rehabilitation and education, and cares solely about winning cases rather than seeking solutions that are in the best interests of the community.
She has countered this by trying to present herself as a reformer in her own right, arguing on her Website that her main goal is to “do the right thing” and she aims to achieve “just outcomes” in her cases.
In this, she is at best being misleading and at worst outright lying. I had a very recent experience with Stamos’ policies and approach that directly contradict all of these lofty goals.
Kids do dumb things. While the sharing of intimate pictures is sadly very common these days, even among middle-schoolers, there are no laws in Virginia that deal directly with this in the context of minors sharing pictures with each other. As a result, the sharing or possession of these pictures, even when done completely consensually, as they were in the case in which my family was involved, can be prosecuted as child pornography – felony charges, one per image.
In many places, these issues are left to the parents and/or schools to resolve. Notwithstanding this recommendation, Stamos has, on multiple occasions, chosen to prosecute these cases – not because she had to, but rather because she chose to.
Once we were in the juvenile-justice system, which is in theory oriented towards education and rehabilitation rather than punishment, we found that Stamos was very comfortable using the full power of the legal system and the ambiguity around the law in this case to pressure us into accepting a plea deal.
If this is how Ms. Stamos treats children, is it any wonder that she uses the legal system as a blunt-force instrument of punishment with adults? She can say whatever she wants about how her goal is to improve communities and be fair, but her actions speak louder than her words.
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.
Jeffrey Edmeades, Arlington