Justin Fairfax advocates for criminal justice change in race for lieutenant governor

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October 31, 2017

12:25 AM

Justin Fairfax broke into the political scene by making a surprise run for attorney general in 2012. He lost that race, but has continued pushing for change in Virginia politics. If he secures the post of lieutenant governor he will be the first African American to hold the position since Douglas Wilder in 1990.

A former federal prosecutor, Fairfax was a U.S. attorney who worked in the major crimes and narcotics units, as well as deputy of a human trafficking task force. Now, he is a lawyer in private practice and co-owns a small dental practice with his wife. Fairfax said he has been very fortunate to have had the opportunities he has had and that he wants the same for all Virginians.

“All those experiences, I believe, allow me to be in a position to help fight and advocate for all Virginians and to help them have a brighter future and a shot at the American Dream,” Fairfax said.

Fairfax said that if he wins, his top three priorities are economic security and opportunity, the expansion of Medicaid and criminal justice reform. In order to accomplish these goals, Fairfax said he wants to phase in a $15 minimum wage, increase access to community colleges and apprenticeships and invest in young people earlier in their lives in order to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

He is especially concerned with what he considers a broken criminal justice system in Virginia that refers more juveniles to the criminal justice system for school-based infractions than any other state.

What we want to do is make sure that fewer and fewer young people are going into a broken criminal justice system,” Fairfax said. “That we are investing in them earlier on in their lives in education and in workforce development opportunities … and the return on investment of those early investments in our children and in our families is dramatic.”

“What we want to do is make sure that fewer and fewer young people are going into a broken criminal justice system,” Fairfax said. “That we are investing in them earlier on in their lives in education and in workforce development opportunities … and the return on investment of those early investments in our children and in our families is dramatic.”

In addition to these priorities, Fairfax said the heroin and opioid crisis in Virginia is a “travesty,” and Virginia needs to focus on scientifically proven methods of helping people with these addictions before it is too late. These include prevention, education and treatment as well as access to medications that can be administered to prevent an overdose from becoming lethal.

“We can’t simply incarcerate our way out of this problem,” Fairfax said.

When addressing gun control at the Oct. 5th debate against Jill Vogel, Fairfax did not mince words. Fairfax said that most Americans support “common-sense gun reform” and that over 90 percent support universal background checks. However, Vogel does not. She is against any restrictions on firearms, including bump stocks which the NRA recently admitted could use some regulation.

Jill Vogel doesn’t believe anything needs to be done differently, and she said that any restrictions on any gun would violate the constitution, which again is patently false as a constitutional matter, but also extreme,” Fairfax said. “It’s way outside of the mainstream of Virginians and of Americans.”

Planned Parenthood is important to Fairfax, and he emphasized his support of women’s rights in his campaign. He is the board vice chair for the Planned Parenthood Metro Washington, D.C. Action Fund and works with the organization on different events.

“I proudly stand up to defend women’s reproductive choices and rights,” Fairfax said. “Vogel has time and time again tried to undermine women’s rights. She is the sponsor of the infamous forced transvaginal bill. That legislation was incredibly extreme and offensive and made Virginia a laughing stock.”

Fairfax is also passionate about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Virginia. He said that everyone should be able to make a living wage and obtain economic mobility. He references other states that have also raised the minimum wage and are doing well to prove that this would be economically sustainable.

A number of states have raised their minimum wages,” Fairfax said. “They are doing well. Very low wages do not allow for advancement. The minimum wage has been raised over time. For those who argue about it being raised, was it wrong to raise it each time that we did? It has not been raised for a long time. Even just adjusted for inflation it should be above what it is now.”

“A number of states have raised their minimum wages,” Fairfax said. “They are doing well. Very low wages do not allow for advancement. The minimum wage has been raised over time. For those who argue about it being raised, was it wrong to raise it each time that we did? It has not been raised for a long time. Even just adjusted for inflation it should be above what it is now.”

Despite all of these changes that Fairfax is eager to get to work on, he also said that he has a hopeful vision for Virginia’s future. By making change in Virginia, Fairfax hopes that he will be able to create a growing economy in which everyone can achieve the American Dream.

 

 

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Nia Kitchin
  • Nia Kitchin

News Editor Nia Kitchin '20 is a Government and Studio Art double major. She is from Charlottesville, Virginia and enjoys traveling, hiking, and keeping up with political drama.

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