New Virginia Attorney General Fires Entire Conviction Integrity Unit

Jason Miyares was elected Republican Virginia attorney General. He fired around 30 people after taking office. This includes the whole unit for convict integrity.

A shakeup of the office of the attorney general included the canning lawyers who dealt with issues such as dangerous housing conditions and scams targeting the elderly. Miyares promised to reverse the damage he has done. calledThe “criminal first, victim last” mentality.

Miyares office spokesperson says that the Virginia former Attorney General Mark Herring created the conviction integrity unit in 2021. However, it will continue to exist. Theo Stamos, a former Arlington prosecutor and Democrat will lead it..

In prosecutors’ offices, there are Conviction Review Units (also known as conviction integrity units). They investigate past cases to find errors and misconduct that could have resulted in a wrongful conviction. In 2007, the first unit was established in Dallas. There are currently 45 of them, most of which are located in large cities.

Like I Write2019 conviction review units are “an acknowledgment that public officers can suffer from tunnel sight, confirmation bias and professional ambition as well as bureaucratic selfish-preservation.” If these failures aren’t examined, they can make it easy for police and prosecutor to ignore the possibility that the wrong person was behind bars.

False convictions should not be a concern. In 2020, the National Registry of Exonerations stated that there had been 129 exonerations. Sixty-one of those were secured by conviction integrity units. TSince 1989 there have been 375 exonerations of DNA in the U.S. As perThe Innocence Project.

To function well, conviction integrity units must have the resources and autonomy to be successful. Some jurisdictions saw their work stop after new district attorneys were elected. They weren’t interested in uncovering rotten work done by their office.

While it might seem that Stamos’ appointment to the head of the unit is bipartisan, there are some historical facts. Stamos was Primaried and lostIn a tight race for Arlington’s general counsel, Parisa Dehghani–Tafti was the winner. She was part of an international trend of progressive well-funded candidates challenging incumbent prosecutors. Advocates for criminal justice reform criticizedStamos to prosecute minors for petty crimes and bail support.

Miyares backs legislation that would permit police to petition the Virginia Attorney General’s Office in order to bring criminal cases to trial when Dehghani Tafti and other local prosecutors are unable to.

Miyares: “If you don’t want to do your job let Virginians know that there is a backup plan at the attorney general.” Telled The Washington Post.

Miyares said that the Post He won’t tolerate police abuse, and is willing to participate in so-called practice and pattern investigations of police departments 

Miyares is the son of Cuban immigrants and said that he felt sensitive to police abuse after listening to his uncle tell a tale about being held captive and abused shortly after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. His uncle was mock executed, he said.

“I’m a passionate believer in individual dignity and not abusing that—least of all by government,” Miyares said.

Herring spokesperson said that the firings would “be a substantial loss for the Office of Attorney General’s mission.”

Herring spokeswoman said, “These dedicated public servants are professional and committed and do important work like investigating wrongful convictions and protecting Virginians’ civil right, helping to ensure free, fair elections and preventing human trafficking or opioid abuse.” TelledThe Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Herring was on his way to the exit of his office when he saw Herring AnnoucedIn order to force confessions and cooperation, Virginia Beach police used fake DNA evidence during interrogations earlier in the month.