[PAST EVENT] ACS Progressive Prosecutors Discussion
The American Constitution Society at William & Mary Law School welcomes three Virginia Commonwealth's Attorneys - Gregory Underwood of Norfolk, Stephanie Morales of Portsmouth, and Collette McEachin of Richmond - for a panel discussion on progressive approaches to prosecution, moderated by Professor Jeffrey Bellin.
About the speakers:
As Commonwealth's Attorney, Mr. Underwood implemented a policy of dismissing simple marijuana possession charges. He fought for this policy up to the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled against him in May 2019. Mr. Underwood also promised not to enforce a law preventing the removal of confederate monuments, allowing the City to move an 80-foot statue from the center of Norfolk to a local cemetery in 2017.
Ms. Morales was the first woman to be elected Commonwealth's Attorney in Portsmouth. She has committed her office to a community prosecution model focused on ensuring safety and procedural justice. Her “Ctrl+Alt+Del Program” has taught effective re-entry strategies in state prisons, and has helped reduce recidivism by working with citizens who have re-entered into the community to restore their voting rights and help them become productive community members.
Ms. McEachin supports decriminalizing marijuana, banning guns in public buildings and parks, and diverting low-level nonviolent offenders from jail. She is committed to continuing analysis of the root causes of crime, wants to slow recidivism and provide alternatives to incarceration--reducing felony charges to misdemeanors when possible--and hopes to create specialty mental health and substance use dockets.