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D.A. candidate Jackie Lacey looks to move up

Jun 06, 2012

from the article by Robert Greene in the Los Angeles Times:

....California faces a sweeping revamp of the way it delivers and administers criminal justice. Under the policy change known as realignment, counties must take on the task of incarcerating and supervising many felons who formerly went to state prison. The next district attorney of Los Angeles County will play a lead role in developing and articulating policies that will determine whether smart, cost-effective alternative sentencing practices lead to rehabilitation — or instead to dangerous criminals being released, unsupervised, into the community. 

....But Lacey noted that she differs from Cooley in many policy areas. She wants to reinvigorate the environmental crimes unit, which her boss de-emphasized. She worked to help get alternative sentencing courts — veterans’ court, women’s court, along with the already existing drug court and mental health court. But for all those court descriptions there is really only one of them, handled by one judge. Lacey wants more.

On realignment, she is not so different from Cooley in that she labels the change a disaster, but unlike Cooley she says we’re stuck with it and should take the opportunity to reinvent the criminal justice system.

The issue is the “r” words, beginning not with realignment but with recidivism. State prisons became overcrowded in part because inmates on release had a 70% likelihood of coming back within the first 18 months due to a parole violation or a new crime. The figure is often misused, and the statistics on technical violations and new convictions are often conflated, but any way they are looked at the numbers are not good.

That brings in the other “r” words: restorative justice, rehabilitation, redemption. They are big, currently, in the criminal justice field. California must figure out whether they are a passing fancy or a new way of going about the criminal justice business. Los Angeles County voters must decide whether they want a district attorney who embraces the concepts — and whether they trust that person to implement new policies based on them — rather than on simply locking up the criminals and dealing with them again when there jail terms are up.

“We are going through a sea change right before our eyes, and very quickly” she said. “I am the best equipped to lead that office through some incredibly dynamic challenges. You want to have an adult in that office. Someone who is sane. Someone who is not out to get headlines. I don’t think the other candidates even know or understand the responsibility of running that office.”

Read the whole article.

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