Solutions on Issues to Achieve Safety Fairness and Justice
Crime Strategies Unit
Creating a new direction for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office means creating a new model for community engagement, prosecution, and public safety. As District Attorney I will reform the Community Prosecutors Unit from merely focusing on quality-of-life crimes, to being a more responsive and strategic partner with community members, local business and law enforcement. The reimagined unit will be a multi-disciplinary, problem-solving team of embedded prosecutors, investigators, and analysts working to identify their assigned communities’ crime challenges and victimization patterns. They will also identify crime drivers and develop data-driven, narrowly tailored interventions to hold accountable those who commit crimes.
Additionally, as District Attorney I will work to establish a Community Justice program which will include a Community Court, Youth Court and Restorative Justice Collaborative. The Community Court will offer adults charged with first-time and non-violent offenses an alternative accountability model with a panel of community members. Youth Court will offer for youth charged with low-level offenses an alternative accountability model, under the supervision of a judge, involving youth advocates and youth jurors. The Restorative Justice Collaborative will be developed in partnership with community groups and will offer restorative justice “circles” for those who commit offenses and those they have harmed (or surrogates who take their place). These circles provide those most affected by a crime with the power and opportunity to address questions, impacts, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and foster accountability. Together the circle participants reach agreements about what the responsible party can do to make things as right as possible. Voluntary participation and extensive preparation of all parties is required.
Lastly, the community-centered public safety model will include multiple advisory boards, representing our many diverse communities, including California’s diverse racial and ethnic communities, the LGBTQ community, religious groups and advocates for women’s rights to better understand, prevent, and address issues facing specific groups in Sacramento County. Each advisory board may meet several times over the course of the year and consists of residents, neighborhood representatives, community-based organizations, merchants, and businesses. An important role of the advisory group will be to facilitate opportunities for the District Attorney to personally engage with community members in their communities.
Working with and Supporting Immigrant Communities
Trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities is imperative to community safety for all. As District Attorney, I will protect any individuals who report crimes or serve as witnesses from any potential immigration consequences. Justice must also be equal, and as required under state law, Deputy DAs in my administration will consider immigration status in plea agreements to ensure undocumented defendants are not subject to more significant consequences than their documented counterparts.
People Centered Solutions
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Mental health and substance abuse are two growing public health crises. As District Attorney, I will expand services, increase access to programs that promote rehabilitation and offer people who commit low-level offenses the tools and resources to succeed in the future following a Treatment First model. This will ensure that more individuals receive access to treatment and support rather than short stints in county jail which are not only ineffective, but counterproductive. When we fail to seek alternatives for offenses that have no bearing on our safety, we often exacerbate issues which undermine our quality of life. The failure to divert individuals into our public health system for behavioral health or substance abuse issues presumes incarceration for low-level offenses is an effective deterrent. It is not. It only serves to limit access to needed services, employment and housing, all of which are primary drivers of both rearrest and homelessness.
Reforming Juvenile Justice
As District Attorney I will work to build a juvenile justice system that is family and child centered, incorporates data and research, is collaborative and trauma-informed, fosters positive youth development, and achieves true public safety. I will expand the use of diversion programs and specialized courts aimed at addressing the unique needs of young people who commit offenses, especially those with mental illness.
Based on data and research showing that brain development continues into our mid-20s, I will reserve prosecuting children as adults for the most egregious offenses. Adult prisons are simply no place for youth because they lack age-appropriate treatment, education, or any other rehabilitative services. Many studies show that young people are more capable of rehabilitation than adults and opportunities to mature and transform their lives have the greatest potential for improving public safety when they return to home. I recognize the challenge of needing to separate young people who commit very serious and violent offenses and the impending closure of our youth prison system. I believe youth justice requires committing to developing a new model of accountability and rehabilitation.
Public Safety Centered Solutions
Gun violence is a public health crisis. As District Attorney I will work to remove guns from those who should not have them, including those with felony and domestic violence convictions. I will also educate community members on California’s red flag law, including who can apply for and how to apply for a gun violence restraining order. As District Attorney, I will also work with our law enforcement partners, to tackle the growing problem with ghost gun manufacturers.
Cash bail is fundamentally unfair, allowing wealthy people who pose a serious threat to public safety to go free, while forcing those with less means to remain in jail for low-level offenses. As District Attorney, I will work to end this unjust disparity in Sacramento County and implement a more equitable approach to pretrial detention decisions based on a person’s risk to public safety. Additionally, I will advocate for the expansion of the pretrial services program, to require a thorough risk and needs assessment is performed, non-financial conditions of release are considered and ensure a clear record for the basis of any pre-trial release is established.
As District Attorney, I will punish the most heinous capital murders with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. I will not pursue the death penalty under arbitrary, ineffective, and discriminatory framework. It needlessly drags victims through decades of appeals for a sentence that will currently not be imposed, and at extraordinary cost to taxpayers. The death penalty has also never been shown to be a deterrent.
Supporting Survivors and Expanding Victims Services
My own experience as a crime survivor has shown me the ways in which our criminal justice system fails those who have been violated. I have also learned how the system often re-victimizes survivors by fixating on punishment instead of survivor healing, support and recovery. As District Attorney, I will center the voices of all survivors including those who prefer rehabilitation and crime prevention rather than more incarceration.
Traditionally, individuals who most need help–those from underserved communities–are even less likely to receive services than individuals from more wealthy communities. To address this disparity, I will ensure every victim of violent crime is provided information on applicable support services irrespective of case outcomes. I will also work with community-based organizations to connect survivors with resources that run parallel to the criminal justice system.
Prosecutors and Victim Advocates must also receive trauma-informed care and cultural sensitivity training to ensure the adequate provision of services and communication with all survivors, including communities of color and members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities. I will further prioritize the retention of bicultural and bilingual staff that can communicate with victims in their native language and who understand cultural norms of monolingual communities. It’s essential that the DA’s Office and its victim advocates reflect the communities they seek to serve.
Perpetrators of sexual violence must be held accountable. Survivors of sexual violence deserve our community’s full support. As District Attorney, I will collaborate with law enforcement, local schools, and community-based organizations to expand survivor access to support services irrespective of whether criminal proceedings are initiated. I will also ensure every rape kit is tested, and I will implement a sexual assault response team to improve compassionate service delivery through specialized victim advocates that serve as a primary contact for survivors from initial report through trial. We must further establish community connections to after-care for victims of sexual assault so that they are supported beyond the criminal proceeding and have meaningful support as they continue to heal.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, I deeply understand the unique complexities and challenges presented by domestic abuse cases. As District Attorney, I will ensure that victims are offered the resources necessary to remain safe from their abusers while criminal proceedings unfold, and irrespective of whether charges are filed. I will:
- Prioritize early intervention and victim services as a key to reducing domestic violence and sexual assaults by working with community agencies, schools, youth organizations and faith-based organizations.
- Assign a team of attorneys to work with community agencies to review and assess cases appropriate for gun violence restraining orders against abusers who pose a high threat and work to remove guns from abusers as quickly as possible.
- Ensure high lethality protocols are standardized and signs that a domestic violence situation could turn deadly are well known. Identification of high-risk cases provides the opportunity to ensure safety for the victim and accountability for those who engage in violence.
- Create a community-run working group to promote public education and intervention strategies to ensure victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault are aware that there is help available.
Justice Centered Solutions
Supporting and Holding Law Enforcement Accountable
When a lack of trust exists between the community and law enforcement, safety is compromised for all. If the public does not trust police, they will not report crimes, and that has implications for our entire community’s public safety. As District Attorney, I will support and stand up for officers who engage in constitutional policing and will prioritize building trust between the community and law enforcement. I will also ensure that officers who break the law are fully held accountable, as the failure to do so has broader implications for the integrity of law enforcement and our system of justice. What’s more, to ensure prosecutorial independence, I will not accept any financial contributions from police unions.
Wage Theft and Workplace Justice
Wage theft and labor trafficking are serious offenses and no worker should be denied their hard-earned pay. As District Attorney I will form a Workplace Justice Unit dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, prosecuting criminal wage theft cases, and stopping labor trafficking. I will establish community partnerships for case referrals and work with the Labor Commissioner who also has a broad range of enforcement responsibilities. Additionally, I will increase efforts to educate the public and employers on worker rights, provide information about workplace justice and how workplace crimes can be reported.
Addressing Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
From the time of arrest through charging and sentencing, the criminal justice system is plagued by systemic racism. To reduce the impact of race on criminal justice outcomes we must confront head on the ways in which racism pervades our system. As District Attorney, I will implement new policies and procedures aimed at eliminating racial disparities in charging decisions, application of sentencing enhancements, and plea bargaining. I will use data to understand how prosecutorial practices are disproportionately impacting communities of color and share my policies publicly so that the community I serve is informed and empowered to hold me accountable.
Holding individuals and groups who violate environmental crimes – crimes that disproportionately impact communities of color – is critical to ensuring equity within our justice system. As District Attorney, I will prioritize investigating and prosecuting environmental crimes including the illegal transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste and toxic materials, underground storage tank violations, storm-water pollution, and noise and air pollution violations. I will also prioritize ensuring communities harmed by violators directly benefit from civil settlements to mitigate adverse impacts. Having worked on environmental justice issues for nearly ten years I understand how critical holding environmental polluters accountable is in protecting our communities.
Tackling Public Corruption
Public corruption undermines the integrity of our community. As District Attorney, I will fervently investigate and prosecute public corruption, shield whistleblowers from retaliation, and promote transparency by enforcing existing laws.
Leading in Prosecutorial Transparency
As District Attorney, I will lead a transparent office and expand public access to office data. Ensuring transparency and honesty is critical to building trust between the District Attorney’s office and the community. It is also imperative to effective management, as you cannot manage a large agency in the absence of performance metrics. I will increase transparency by posting a data dashboard with arrest, charge, and sentencing information by demographic for public review.