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Interesting Scott Miles Interview on 1380 AM Radio Poder

I am presently listening to a Scott Miles interview with a Richmond Spanish radio station (AM 1380 Radio Poder); don’t worry, Scott’s in English!

I think he raises interesting questions.  First, Scott has an extensive record:  Four years in the Richmond prosecutor’s office and now about nine years as a defense lawyer who does some civil work.  Prosecuted murder cases in South Richmond.  Also a veteran who served abroad.  He has represented police in cases.  Tough on violent crime.  Wants to look at driving record and safe driving in a no license situation before recommending jail.

Miles spoke on an emphasis of rehabilitation in drug cases.  He emphasizes the situation for the addict and his family and jail can be counterproductive.  Scott proposes community-based treatment.  He cited the sheriff (Leonard) that it costs $128 per day to house a prisoner in the jail.  A total of $51 million dollars!  Only about 25% of the inmates are violent.  Community-based recovery can cost a $135 per addict per WEEK.  It’s more humane and cost-effective.   Lots of drug cases.  The second leading choice is property loss crimes.

There is a street-level user or addict who is selling to maintain their addiction.  Contrary to this is the dealer who is selling “poison” in the community who is a violent criminal, Miles contends.  He will be tough with those kind of dealers.

Who vets the typical distribution case?  The prosecutors can do it, using police records and other facts before them.

MIles also contends that drug courts are great but only if the defendant is committed to treatment, not just avoid jail.

Scott spoke on the Philadelphia experiment and also cited Taylor in Henrico and Herring in Richmond for a “progressive” drug prosecution system.  (I am not sure I’d use the word “progressive” for anything!)

Scott wants to change cash bail.  The middle class suspect can probably make bail; the working poor might not make bail; and the indigent might suffer while they await trial – no bills being paid.  Truly violent, threats to society – Scott says oppose bail altogether.  There are also many methods to assure presence in court or to prevent say drinking alcohol (SCRAM bracelets for example.)

The undocumented issue came up twice.  The first time, it was in the driver’s license issue and Miles favors licenses for undocumented; the second issue is enforcement of federal immigration law.  Miles’ concern is ensuring that immigrants will not be too afraid to be a witness or even report a crime as a victim.  Technically, Scott is right:  The CA only enforces state laws.  There is some support for a limited immunity (the American Bar Association for example) for undocumented witnesses and victims to report crimes without fear of deportation if they come to court.

Miles promises to bring more diversity in the office.  He feels that it is disturbing for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to be primarily white men.  Miles also surprised me about no jail for pot crimes no matter what – not a public safety issue.  He wants to review harder drug cases on a case by case basis before recommending jail.  Not sure I am there.

Now let me say:  This is a startling, maybe breathtaking program.  Not sure I agree with all of it.  But Scott Miles raises good points.  The criminal justice system is more complex than just “lock ’em up” and Miles in a soft-spoken tone brings up some of the nuances.  If I lived in Chesterfield today and voted today, I’d vote for Scott.

Here is the interview.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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