A Community Message for the Next DA: We Seek Your Leadership

The District Attorney is charged with seeking justice while prosecuting the accused in our criminal courts. The DA has enormous power but is accountable to the electorate. We need a DA who understands and acts upon community concerns. We are here to ensure that the next DA truly represents us, “the People,” and responds to those concerns. We ask the next DA to do the following: • Fair Drug Enforcement. People of color are more likely to be prosecuted for drug offenses and are more likely to be sent to state prison for drug charges, even though people of all races use and sell drugs at virtually the same rate. Sending non-violent offenders to treatment instead of jail or prison costs less money and reduces repeat crimes. Our DA must ensure that drug laws are enforced fairly and equally. Our DA must initiate and foster plea bargains and diversions that provide drug treatment and rehabilitation instead of incarceration. • Strong Support for Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation programs help address the root causes of crime, thus reducing victimization and future crime. Despite its high recidivism rates, California has dismantled nearly all rehabilitation programs in our prisons. This is senseless, given that treatment is much more cost-effective than incarceration. Our DA must divert as many non-violent offenders as possible into treatment, education, and job-readiness programs instead of incarceration, giving people a second chance instead of sentencing them to a life of crime. Our DA must publicly support vastly increased funding for treatment, rehabilitation, and job-training programs in our jails and prisons to ensure inmates returning to our communities have the skills and support to build productive lives, making us all safer. •True Justice For Juveniles. Too many students of color are being funneled into the juvenile justice system by overly harsh school discipline policies. The District Attorney decides whether to prosecute this behavior as a crime or to respond through another route such as diversion. Keeping youth out of the system to begin with is the best way to save young lives from being wasted. In more serious cases, the DA decides whether a youth is charged as an adult, funneling him or her directly into the adult criminal justice system focused on punishment, not rehabilitation. Our DA must actively support fair alternatives for our youth, rejecting the criminalization of adolescence and working to reduce the number of youth from all communities who are brought into the juvenile justice system. Our DA must also exercise the discretion to charge youths as adults sparingly, with the presumption that all youths deserve a true chance at rehabilitation. The bottom line is that we want fairness, honesty, and integrity from our lead prosecutor. We ask him/her to charge crimes appropriately, seeking outcomes that minimize incarceration and focus on rehabilitation. Help keep our communities together and supported! Sponsored by the Advancement Project, The Drug Policy Alliance, The Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, California Faith Action, the Flintridge Center, the Violence Prevention Coalition, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches, the Community Coalition, and the Office of Restorative Justice, Archdiocese of LA.
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