Justice Forward Endorses Jess Foster for Virginia House of Delegates
Justice Forward Virginia is proud to endorse Jess Foster in her race for Delegate in Virginia’s 88th District. Ms. Foster is a long-time resident of Fauquier County and a partner at Foster McCollam, a criminal defense and family law firm based out of Manassas. We’re supporting her because of her commitment to criminal justice reform and her first-hand experience fighting on the frontlines of criminal defense.
As an experienced juvenile delinquency and criminal defense practitioner, Foster brings a desperately-needed perspective to the General Assembly. Even as criminal justice reform has become a trending topic in Virginia politics, there remains a real shortage of relevant expertise in the state legislature. As it stands, only two legislators both have criminal defense experience and have demonstrated an appreciation for forward-thinking justice policy. Quite simply, the General Assembly needs another knowledgable, dedicated voice to join the call to fix Virginia’s broken criminal justice system.
In speaking with Ms. Foster, she mentioned three justice reform priorities she intends to pursue if elected. On each subject, Justice Forward shares her goals.
First, she seeks to raise the age at which juveniles may be transferred or certified to the Circuit Court for trial as an adult. Currently, Virginia law allows prosecutors to try as adults children who are as young as 14 years of age. The transfer/certification age should be raised to at least 16.
Second, Foster aims to make permanent the prohibition on suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid court fines and costs. Because it was only a budget amendment, the Governor’s action in 2019 expires at the end of the current budget cycle. We need to end this debtor’s prison practice once and for all.
Third and finally, Foster shares the impatience of the justice reform community with the long overdue, needlessly delayed changes to Virginia’s criminal discovery rules. Right now, defendants in Virginia have no right to see the police reports from their own cases or learn the names of the witnesses who will testify against them at trial. Of the only 9 states with similar restrictions, Virginia’s rules are second worst, behind only Alabama. Ms. Foster wants the legislature to take this matter into its own hands, codifying discovery rules in the Virginia Code in order to promote fairness and efficiency in our criminal courts.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 11. We urge you to support Jess Foster as she aims to bring a much-needed perspective to the Virginia General Assembly.