The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has followed through on plans to grant Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj a smaller funding increase than requested. On April 6, the supervisors finalized the budget that only approves adding four positions for the office. Biberaj had asked for up to 12 new positions, but supervisors worried about high turnover within the office and said their constituents were complaining about Biberaj not taking enough domestic violence cases to trial, leaving women victim’s in danger.
In a press conference the same day the council approved the budget, Biberaj said that as cases develop, convictions may not always benefit victims. “We as the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, are not interested in convictions for convictions sake. We are interested in justice to make sure that we’re keeping our community safe. That requires us to understand what the needs of our victims are. For us to meet those needs, we need the resources.”
Half an hour after that press conference, an organization called Stand Up Virginia protested Biberaj. “Imagine if it were you who had to go to court and face an attorney after you had been abused years and years by your spouse or significant other, and then you’re told by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office that you should have more concern and more empathy for your abuser,” Stand Up Virginia Founder Brenda Tillet said, according to Loudoun Now.
The board passed the budget without discussing the lowered funding for the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
The supervisors discussed funding for Biberaj’s office in previous workgroups, where multiple supervisors criticized Biberaj’s handling of the office. In a March meeting, Biberaj told the supervisors that she was instituting a new way of handling cases that tried to allow accused people to stay in the community as much as possible.
Supervisor Kristen Umstattd said in the meeting, “If we’re seeing in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office a shift away from criminal prosecution, especially in domestic abuse cases, violent domestic abuse cases, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office wants to move more towards counseling, which is what I heard in the last presentation and tonight, we have services already for counseling, mental health does a very good job.”
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