Panelist: Stephanie Morales

On February 10, 2015, Stephanie Morales was the first woman to be elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in Portsmouth, VA after which, she immediately created sustainable programming aimed at reforming the criminal justice system that has been embraced by the community. She was re-elected in November of 2017 and will have served for four years as of February 2019. She has committed her office to a community prosecution model focused on ensuring the community is safe and procedurally just.

A month after taking office in 2015, Stephanie formed her “Ctrl+Alt+Del Program” under which she has held dialogue and taught effective re-entry strategies in seminars held in the community and inside state prisons and has helped reduce recidivism by working with incarcerated citizens and citizens who have re-entered into the community to restore their voting rights and help them become productive community members. It is uncommon for prosecutors to work with the incarcerated population who will soon re-enter into our communities but Commonwealth’s Attorney Morales firmly believes that if the prosecutor’s office supports those working to stay on the right track there is no reason others in the community will not do the same, leading to more effective re-entry and to the overall success of all citizens in our communities.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Morales has mentored over 150 students under her program called the “Future Leaders Initiative” which was established in March of 2015. Under this program young people from elementary school all the way through law school are afforded the opportunity to shadow, intern or fellow in the office after which they earn the title of “Junior Commonwealth’s Attorney.” This program was formed to ensure a positive relationship is formed with the city’s youth in hopes that they will consider careers in its criminal justice system.  Commonwealth’s Attorney Morales is a firm believer that the system functions best when people of it and who respect and love its people are at its helm and her efforts are for the purpose of creating a better criminal justice system by developing its future leaders early.  To further extend youth engagement and to keep students on the right track, Commonwealth’s Attorney Morales and her team formed the “Social Media by the Statutes” program where her team enters the public schools and engages students with scenarios that teach them how their behaviors online and through technology can affect them legally and permanently.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Morales strives to advocate daily for those who can’t fight for themselves including working to address our mental health crisis in the criminal justice system and also to disrupt implicit bias in prosecution. She works daily to ensure the community is engaged with her office and constantly informed on what is happening in the justice system.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Links, Inc., an appointee to the Virginia State Child Fatality Review Team and is a national board member of the Local Progress Organization. Most importantly she is a fierce advocate for justice and a wife and mother of four children. She is proud to work for the community where she was born and raised as a true public servant.

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