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Can AG-elect Miyares follow through with promise to prosecute

What happens when your local prosecutor decides against pressing charges in a case or strikes a controversial plea deal?

Attorney General Jason Miyares
Virginia Attorney General's Office
Attorney General Jason Miyares

Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares says he wants to step in and prosecute local cases when commonwealth's attorneys won't. "In all of this discussion about criminal justice reform the media talks about, you know the person they never talk about? Victims. They don't talk about the victims," Miyares argues. "And that has been a central plank of why I ran and a central plank of what got me elected. So I am going to end the criminal-first, victims-last mindset and have a victims-first, criminals-last mindset."

Miyares wants the General Assembly to allow a sheriff or a chief of police to request his office step in and take up cases they don't think were handled well by the local elected prosecutor.

"There's no chance at all that's going to pass," says Senator John Edwards, a Democrat from Roanoke. Edwards is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "He has no authority under the Constitution, and the likelihood of the General Assembly granting him that authority is zero. It's not going to happen in the Senate of Virginia, and not in my committee."

Edwards says if people don't like how local prosecutors handle cases they can vote against them the next time they're on the ballot.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.