A coalition of groups working on criminal justice reform has been running a signature campaign to try to move the LA County district attorney candidates their way. The groups say that this huge county's chief prosecutor holds tremendous sway over whether or not young people of color in particular get "tracked" for convictions that will haunt them all their lives.
"The DA campaign is a high stakes race that we all should pay more attention to," said Rev. Peter Laarman, a leader of California Faith Action, of one of the groups participating in the coalition. "Because of this county's size, our district attorney is traditionally responsible for about half of all people incarcerated in California. To help get those numbers down, we need a DA who charges down, not up, and who tries to keep at-risk people from entering the system in the first place."
Specifically, the coalition wants the next DA to send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of jail; to publicly come out in support of rehabilitation, job-training, and treatment for ex-offenders seeking to re-enter society; and to avoid criminalizing kids with school discipline issues while also avoiding charging juveniles as adults as much as possible in more serious cases.
The coalition is urging all concerned LA County residents to sign the open letter. Here is a link for signing the letter.
Along with California Faith Action, the groups working on the voter education effort include the Drug Policy Alliance, the ACLU, LA Metropolitan Churches, the Community Coalition, the Advancement Project, the Violence Prevention Coalition, the Flintridge Center, the LA Area Reentry Partnership, and the Office of Restorative Justice of the Roman Catholic archdiocese.