FIRST 100 DAYS

When I say I’m running as a progressive reformer, leader, and innovator to make reimagining public safety our City’s reality, I mean it.

I pledge to take these actions to turn protest into progress in my first (100) days in office – each commitment listed here represents significant, progressive change from current practices:

Empower diverse prosecutors

I will designate a Deputy for Diversity & Recruitment, publish a diversity and recruitment plan, and publicly commit to hiring and empowering prosecutors within deputy leadership, by the end of my first year, and within our entire prosecutorial staff, by the end of my term, at a ratio reflective of Richmond’s diversity.

Vertical organization for relationship-driven policing & prosecution

Clearance rates in homicides have declined steadily since 2018 and should be understood as a lagging indicator of on-going deterioratioration in relationships between communities, police, and prosecutors.


Approximately (78) homicides in 2020 and 2019 have not been cleared by arrest.


Community-driven justice is only possible when it is built upon positive, working relationships among these stakeholders.


Relying on digital surveillance by cameras, drones, and planes, or on predictive policing systems that ignore human realities of our neighborhoods, cannot become methods for turning our backs on these relationships.


With the aim of establishing a public framework for relationship-driven policing and prosecution, and toward the end of resetting these relationships on a path for restoration and future growth, I will reorganize my office by a team-based, vertical prosecution system that will tie prosecutors into neighborhood realities and community voices.


I will designate diverse, prosecutor team leaders and empower them to build relationships with key community members.


These key community members will be invited to become advisors to our office on issues of public safety, thereby supporting the creation of a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

End mass incarceration

I will establish one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration:  an assessment of the recency, frequency, and severity of an individual’s history of corroborated allegations of crimes against persons.


In both bail and sentencing hearings, prosecutors will only advocate to incarcerate individuals assessed as being high risk for crimes against persons based on their individual, corroborated, historical conduct.


The overwhelming, vast majority of accused persons do not present these risks.  For these people, prosecutors will advocate for community-based outcomes to create alternative pathways for personal accountability and harm reduction.


To this end, this discretionary standard will also include a presumption that prosecutors will not argue subsequently in sentencing to incarcerate individuals who have already been admitted to bail.  To do so would interrupt their progress out of the system and undermine the systemic goal of creating long-term public safety.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

End cash bail & presumptions against bond

Pursuant to my office’s one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration:


If prosecutors assesses an individual as being high risk for crimes against persons based on their individual, corroborated, historical conduct, they will advocate for their detention pre-trial.


For the overwhelming, vast majority of accused persons who do not present these risks – prosecutors will proactively argue against cash bail and against presumptions against bond.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

COVID-19 review

Pursuant to my office’s one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration:


I will undertake a review of all persons held at the Richmond City Jail and apply this standard to determine whether to file motions to modify bail or sentencing in light of the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic.


This review process, including the numbers of cases reviewed and modifications put forward by my office, will be published in a report to ensure public transparency.

Dynamic sentencing

Pursuant to my office’s one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration:


If prosecutors assess an individual as being high risk for crimes against persons based on their individual, corroborated, historical conduct, they will advocate for their detention in sentencing.


However, prosecutorial advocacy for incarceration in sentencing will be constrained by evidence-driven indexing to empirical risk for crimes against persons over time.


The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, which is organized to provide objective and independent knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science, approximates these dynamic risk profiles through the Age-Crime Curve.


The Age-Crime Curve reflects the following observed phenomenon relevant to criminal justice practices:


  • Brain maturation does not fully occur until approximately age 25; and


  • Physical capability tends to decline increasingly with age; such that


  • The risk of violent offending tends to peak in ages 19 to 24 and decline consistently in every subsequent decade


In short: when advocating for incarceration, prosecutors will not advocate for sentences greater than Virginia’s judicial sentencing guidelines or beyond the next indexed break in risk in the Age-Crime Curve based on an individual’s current age, whichever is less. For significant violent crimes reflective of aggravating risk factors, such as those listed under the section, “Prioritizing prosecution of violence,” prosecutors may seek authorization directly from me to advocate for sentences up to a subsequent break in the Age-Crime Curve based on an individual's current age.


This will ensure that sentences including incarceration sought by prosecutors under Virginia’s Truth-in-Sentencing laws that abolished parole are also reflective of the truth of declining empirical risk profiles over time.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms. 

Shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline

Prosecuting juveniles

Pursuant to my office’s one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the advocacy for incarceration and the Age-Crime Curve phenomenon:


I will not prosecute allegations of criminal conduct by juveniles, referred from Richmond’s schools, and for which accused adults would not be subject to incarceration under my office’s guidelines for prosecutorial discretion.  Classrooms cannot become conduits to criminal courtrooms.


Allegations of criminal conduct by juveniles referred to my office by other means will be subject to the same community-driven standards for prosecutorial discretion as adults, but with two, additional controls reflective of the empirically observed, scientifically confirmed, temporary nature of youthful offending:


  • A presumption against prosecution as an adult but for aggravating risk factors; and


  • A presumption against incarceration but for aggravating risk factors.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

Social services, not sentences

I will establish one public set of guidelines for prosecutorial discretion that prioritizes a root cause approach to prosecutorial advocacy for community-based outcomes that will create alternative pathways for personal accountability and harm reduction.


These guidelines will include such criteria as:


  • Holistic, individual assessments of root causes and referrals to local services that address them


  • Broadening the scope of referrals from City or court-managed programming to new partnerships with local resources, nonprofits, and other government and private service providers to achieve a truly systemic, social-services approach to criminal justice


  • Supervision and probation must accommodate individual capacities and commitments for transportation, employment, and childcare


  • Court costs and fines must be feasible, reasonable, and scaled to individual abilities to pay – and prosecutors will not advocate for fines on the indigent


  • Community service hours must be feasible, reasonable, and scaled to individual capacities and commitments for transportation, employment, and childcare


  • Restitution must be feasible, reasonable, scaled to individual abilities to pay, and within the scope of the criminal, not the civil, process


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

Prosecute police misconduct

On my first day in office, I will establish public charging criteria for police use-of-force incidents reflective of best practices for self-defense by law enforcement, including such criteria as:


  • The only legitimate purposes for police use-of-force are self-defense or defense of others


  • Force may only be deployed in response to a hostile act, not hostile intent


  • De-escalation, including verbal de-escalation, must be attempted before force is deployed


  • The first deployment of force in response to a hostile act must be proportional, meaning:  in-kind to the nature, duration, and scope of the force employed by the hostile act


  • Continuing deployment of force in response to a hostile act must be proportional and escalate through all available least restrictive means to resolve the situation


  • Continuing deployment of force in response to a hostile act must be proportional and not exceed the least restrictive means necessary to resolve the situation


To ensure public transparency, use-of-force incidents violating these criteria will be charged first by sworn criminal informations for arrest publicly filed by my office.


Subsequent to arrest on any issued criminal informations, my office will engage the grand jury presentment process to obtain triable indictments.


On triable indictments obtained in such matters involving law enforcement, the presumption will be that a jury trial will be had.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

Do Not Call List

I will establish a "Do Not Call List" for police officers and any other witnesses assessed by my office as exhibiting bias, motives to fabricate, or any character, reputational, or other specific instances of untruthfulness that create due process concerns in pursuit of fundamentally fair proceedings.


Prosecutors are already subject to a legal duty to disclose such information regarding witnesses under constitutional principles enshrined in case law issued by the United States Supreme Court and Virginia’s Courts.


However, when such disclosures regarding particular witnesses are insufficient to secure the fundamental fairness of proceedings as a matter of due process, my office will no longer call such witnesses to testify.


Procedures for identifying and initially assigning such witnesses to the Do Not Call List, as well as procedures for an internal appeal process prior to final designation of a witness on the Do Not Call List, will be published.


After the internal appeals process is exhausted and witnesses are designated with finality on the Do Not Call List, the list will be published.


Prosecutors are legally and professionally obligated to be minsters of justice.  This means they must be guardians of a fundamentally fair trial process, not just in theory, but in publicly transparent practice.

Civilian review board & criminal misconduct by law enforcement

I will publicly advocate for, and support the advocacy of local organizations pressing forward on, the establishment of Richmond’s Civilian Review Board for the Police Department.


When set up with subpoena power, these boards can be useful tools to increase transparency and community accountability in law enforcement.


To be clear:  for police misconduct rising to the level of criminal conduct, Richmond already has an analog to a “civilian review board” – it is called a jury trial.


To ensure public transparency in the prosecution of criminal conduct by law enforcement, allegations will be charged first by sworn criminal informations for arrest publicly filed by my office.


Subsequent to arrest on any issued criminal informations, my office will engage the grand jury presentment process to obtain triable indictments.


On triable indictments obtained in such matters involving law enforcement, the presumption will be that a jury trial will be had.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

Public assemblies

I will establish one public standard for prosecutorial discretion in the prosecution of incidents related to public assemblies, including such criteria as:


  • Not prosecuting allegations arising under unilateral determinations of unlawful or riotous assemblies by law enforcement without an independent, published determination by my office that such assessments were legally justified.


  • As a matter of the legal sufficiency of the evidence for inferring the intent required under §18.2-406, or alleging the actions required under §18.2-405, determinations of unlawful or riotous assemblies will not be deemed legally justified by my office in the absence of observations of assembled persons acting together to employ actual force or violence.


As Virginia’s capital city, Richmond can expect to be the scene of more public assemblies than any other locality in the Commonwealth.  


Establishing one, public standard for prosecuting incidents related to these assemblies is necessary to ensure public transparency in the protection of constitutional rights under the First Amendment.


These concepts will be reviewed annually through a public comment period – with the goal of creating a participatory prosecutorial discretion process in my office reflective of community-driven standards and the leading edge of legislative reforms.

Prioritizing prosecution of violence

In reorganizing my office by a team-based, vertical prosecution system, I will prioritize the prosecution of significant violent crimes, such as:


  • Homicides

  • Shootings

  • Armed Robberies & Carjackings

  • Sexual Assaults

  • Residential Burglaries

  • Auto-thefts


These are significant crimes against persons and key personal spaces that tend to do the most damage to individual and community senses of personal and public safety.  Prioritizing their investigation and prosecution will ensure that policing and prosecutorial resources are applied to achieve the greatest public safety benefit.

Ending the war on drugs

Against the backdrop of emerging, evidence-driven reform efforts to end the war on drugs and legalize commercial marijuana across our country and in Virginia, I pledge that Richmond's prosecutors will:


  • Advocate for the dismissal of all simple possession of marijuana cases and the accompanying civil penalty.


  • Setup agreements for the ultimate dismissal of all distribution of marijuana cases while also ensuring none will end in felony convictions.


  • Not prosecute simple possession cases as felonies.


  • Not prosecute residue cases.


Eliminating the prosecution of poverty

Against the backdrop of emerging, evidence-driven reform efforts to eliminate the prosecution of poverty in Virginia, I pledge that Richmond's prosecutors will:


  • Not prosecute petty theft as felonies.


  • Not prosecute public hygiene conduct by houseless persons as indecent exposure.


  • Not advocate for incarceration on trespassing charges for houseless persons


  • Not advocate for fines for the indigent

Ending mandatory minimum sentences

The Virginia Crime Commission has recommended removing all mandatory minimum sentences from Virginia’s Criminal Code.


There are ongoing efforts for legislative reform in the General Assembly toward this recommendation.


In Richmond, I pledge to support these legislative efforts by ensuring our prosecutors amend criminal charging postures to avoid the employment of any mandatory sentencing – not only in trial and sentencing advocacy but prior to the commencement of plea negotiations.

Charging postures & plea negotiations

In contrast to policing and prosecutorial systems in the federal government and other states, prosecutors in Virginia often do not make the initial charging decisions in criminal prosecutions.


Instead, law enforcement initiates most criminal cases by obtaining warrants through a magistrate.


Oftentimes, this results in charging postures that are legally insufficient – or over-charged.


To address this issue, I pledge that Richmond's prosecutors will:


  • Not conduct plea negotiations from a legally insufficient charging posture;


  • Inform defense counsel in writing at the first available opportunity of the Commonwealth’s intention to amend the charging posture to reflect only legally sufficient, corroborated allegations; and


  • Amend charging postures at the first available hearing.

Real-time integrity of convictions & prosecutorial discretion

In reorganizing my office by a team-based, vertical prosecution system, I will ensure real-time integrity of convictions and prosecutorial discretion by implementing an appeal process for defense counsel to access through our prosecutorial team leaders that ends with me.


The purpose of this appeal process will be to field and resolve concerns regarding:


  • Actual innocence of clients; and


  • Prosecutorial applications of community-driven, discretionary guidelines.


Prosecutors are legally and professionally obligated to be minsters of justice.  This means they must be guardians of a fundamentally fair trial process.


Every concern for actual innocence must be addressed in real time – and applications of community-driven standards for prosecutorial discretion must be consistent and subject to review.

Minimizing civil asset forfeiture

I will designate a Deputy for Civil Asset Forfeiture to minimize its practice.


Civil asset forfeiture will be used only in a post-conviction posture and only in situations where it would achieve a proximate public safety benefit from the deprivation of the targeted property.


My office will publish an annual report on the employment of civil asset forfeiture that will highlight any existing contributions to police and prosecutorial budgets and propose specific reductions and alternative investments in Richmond.


To this end, my office will also endeavor to renegotiate any existing sharing agreement to ensure such alternative investments are made.

360-degree prosecutorial performance reviews

I will establish a 360-degree prosecutorial performance review system to ensure Richmond’s prosecutors are evaluated on their adherence to community-driven standards of prosecutorial discretion and advocacy expectations in my office.


By 360-degree, I mean:  prosecutors will be reviewed biannually and anonymously by supervisors, staff, and other willing stakeholders in the criminal justice process such as court personnel, defense attorneys, law enforcement and probation officers, community members, and even the accused.

Discovery processes

Discovery processes will be proactive, distributed open-file, always operated under Rule 3A:11, and, on a timeline basis, compliance will be measured forward from the initiation of a case rather than backward from the start of trial.


By proactive, I mean:  the onus will be on prosecutors to provide discovery even in the absence of a formal discovery motion.


By distributed open-file, I mean:  prosecutors will distribute copies of relevant police reports and any other evidence.


By always operated under Rule 3A:11, I mean:  this rule will be the default standard for the provision of discovery in both Circuit and General District Courts.


By measuring the timeline of discovery forward, not backward, I mean:  prosecutors will provide discovery no later than (14) days from arraignment on a misdemeanor case and no later than (30) days from arraignment on a felony case.


Where necessary to ensure the personal safety of witnesses, information will be redacted or made subject to protective orders pursuant to the procedures provided for in Rule 3A:11.

Collateral impact partnerships

There are significant collateral impacts to criminal prosecution, many of which are the subject of on-going legislative reform in the General Assembly.


In Richmond, I pledge to support these legislative efforts by establishing Collateral Impact Partnerships with local law firms on a pro-bono basis to provide referred assistance to accused persons to:


  • Navigate Virginia’s existing expungement process


  • Navigate Virginia’s existing felon restoration process


  • Navigate Virginia’s existing restoration of driving privileges process


  • Navigate the barment appeals process for the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority


  • Retrieving property and vehicles not subject to on-going investigation from the custody of the Richmond Police Department

Roles & Responsibilities of Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney: Criminal Justice Reform

Many criminal justice reforms are beyond the unilateral governing power of the Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to control.


However, as the Constitutional Officer entrusted with managing criminal prosecution in our City, Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney has an implied responsibility to be a public advocate for broader criminal justice reform in Richmond and across Virginia.


To meet this responsibility, I will designate a Deputy for Criminal Justice Reform, publish a lobbying plan at the local and state level, and publicly commit to ensuring the Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office takes a leading role in publicly advocating for reform efforts in our City and across the Commonwealth, including by such actions as:


Joining the Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice and supporting their lobbying efforts in the General Assembly, and


Establishing lobbying partnerships with, and supporting the public advocacy of, other organizations leading the way on smart criminal justice reforms, including:


  • Ending cash bail, fees, and fines for pretrial services, and reducing pre-trial detention.


  • Abolishing the death penalty.


  • Repealing all mandatory minimum sentencing.


  • Ending the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana and de-felonizing / decriminalizing simple possession of other drugs.


  • Automatic expungement reforms toward ensuring criminal histories are not public records.


  • Increasing funding at the local level for community-based alternatives to incarceration and re-entry efforts by divesting funds from policing and prosecutorial budgets that unnecessarily expand the scope of first response, investigation, and prosecution.


  • Elimination of disenfranchisement of civil and voting rights for criminal convictions.


  • Elimination of other collateral disenfranchisement for criminal convictions, such as loss of driving privileges, reduced access to business licenses, reduced access to loans, etc.


  • Establishing one empirical, evidence-driven standard for incarceration as a threshold determination in bail and sentencing hearings to end mass incarceration in Virginia.


  • Establishing dynamic sentencing as a method of automatic parole to dramatically shorten maximum sentence lengths by evidence-driven methods.


  • Ending the privatization of Virginia’s prison system.


  • Establishing public defender offices with pay parity in every locality in Virginia.


  • Raising the felony larceny threshold to $1,500 and eliminating the felony petit larceny law.


  • Eliminating constructive debtors’ prisons by eliminating the practice of assessing court costs and fees for court-appointed attorneys to accused persons.

Roles & Responsibilities of Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney: Public Safety & Transparency

Many improvements to public safety and transparency are beyond the unilateral governing power of the Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to control.


However, as the Constitutional Officer entrusted with managing criminal prosecution in our City, Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney has an implied responsibility to be a public advocate for broader improvements to public safety and transparency practices in Richmond.


To meet this responsibility, I will designate a Deputy for Public Safety & Transparency, publish a call-to-action for specific improvements in public safety and transparency, and publicly commit to ensuring the Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office takes a leading role in improving public safety and transparency in our City, including by such actions as:


  • Advocating for the establishment of a city-wide initiative in the vein of Advance Peace and the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond, California.  The purpose of this initiative will be to reduce on-going violence and shootings within a proven framework for evidence-driven public safety interventions by community care teams staffed with personnel from multiple government, private, and community agencies in Richmond.


  • Advocating for the creation of a Department of Community Justice (DOCJ) in Richmond that would be funded by divesting from policing and prosecutorial budget line items beyond the scope of first response, investigation, and prosecution.  The DOCJ would staff second responders, social workers, and caseworkers to do the real work of long term crime reduction:  facilitating holistic access to social services.


  • Advocating for the city-wide implementation of the Marcus Alert system.


  • Advocating for the creation of Open Hiring & Open Housing Initiatives to be passed through City Council that would incentivize Richmond’s employers and housing managers to look past criminal histories in job and housing applications in ways Virginia’s current “Ban the Box” laws do not currently require.


  • Joining local organizations to advocate for routine public access to policing data.


  • Publishing an annual report proposing specific reductions to police and prosecutorial budgets and alternative reinvestments in Richmond.


  • Advocating for the creation and publication of a Public Safety Balance Sheet reflective of policing and prosecutorial costs and returns on the investment of public dollars in the criminal justice system.  The purpose of the balance sheet will be to empower public discourse on the significant human and financial costs of the criminal justice system in weighing annual budget considerations for expenditures on schools, affordable housing, and access to healthcare.