Advocacy Toolkit: Bringing Smart Justice to Prosecutions
If you read our 2016 report, “Unparalleled Power,” we believe you will agree that locally elected CAs are the most powerful players in our state’s criminal justice system, but also historically among the most obstinate opponents of common-sense reforms that would help reduce the number of people who are wrapped up in the system and incarcerated.
CAs are the key to criminal justice reform and ending over-incarceration. Virginia’s draconian sentencing law – from mandatory minimums to the abolition of parole to jury sentencing – fundamentally shift influence over outcomes from judges to prosecutors. Only CAs have the authority to decide how many charges a person will face at trial, and whether the charges are ones that carry mandatory minimum sentences. Because the vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains, a prosecutor is more likely to decide a criminal defendant’s sentence than a judge or jury.
These are critical issues that affect individuals, families and communities all across Virginia. With relatively few checks on their authority and the ability to lobby aggressively for changes to laws they don’t like, CAs have unparalleled power over Virginia’s criminal justice system.
This toolkit provides an overview of the issues, fact sheets, sample social media posts, and talking points for you to use in your activism. Importantly, we provide a list of recommended action steps, such as meeting with your local prosecutor and candidates for that office to find out where they stand and attempt to influence them. Download the toolkit below to begin your advocacy, then report back and tell us how things went using this online form.