Public safety should always be near the top of the list in any responsible candidate or elected official’s platform. We have a right and the government has a duty to ensure that we are safe and secure in our homes, in our schools and while in the general public.
As a practicing attorney since 2000, I know firsthand the measure of the crime rate in the 6th District. Very few criminal cases cross the dockets that do not involve drugs as a factor. The Commonwealth, and indeed, the entire nation spends billions of dollars annually to detect and deter illegal drugs through our criminal justice system. I am here to tell you that, in my humble experience, it isn’t working. More and more younger people are being exposed, becoming addicted to and falling prey to illegal drugs than ever before. Despite our best efforts to prosecute and imprison those persons responsible, the drug abuse rates continue to escalate. Catching those responsible for the supply is a crucial part of the balanced equation. However, we must do more to curb the demand which, in my opinion, will be more effective in reducing the affect of illegal drugs in our community.
More public money needs to be invested in drug abuse education, counseling and treatment. We need to explore the possibility that there are many social factors that lead an individual to migrate toward the use of illegal drugs. If we are to be successful in winning this war, we must do more to take the profitability out of the equation for drug dealers. That begins with curbing the demand.
Where will we find this money? Through a more balanced and judicious use of the public’s resources in the use of incarceration as a punishment. We spend at least $24,667 a year to incarcerate an individual in a Virginia correctional facility. Many of these individuals pose no threat to society at all. Incarceration should be reserved for those individuals that create a threat to public safety.
I further support the institution of armed police officers into every school in the Commonwealth. The tragedy that has befallen places such as Sandy Hook and Columbine should never happen here at home and I believe the best way to ensure this is by providing a well-trained, well-armed security officer as a first line of defense. I cannot count the numbers of children that have expressed credible fear to me in regard to having to return to school after the Sandy Hook incident. Our children and teachers deserve a safe school and I would support, wholeheartedly, the efforts to provide such.