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District Attorney Candidates to Address Criminal Justice Reform

May 3, 2018

(Andrea Lopez-Villafaña/La Prensa San Diego)

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

District Attorney candidates, Interim DA Summer Stephan and Genevieve Jones-Wright, are expected to speak on the topic of criminal justice reform during a community candidate forum on Monday, May 14.

The forum, hosted by the San Diego Organizing Project, will be held at the City of Hope International Church at 6 p.m. and hundreds are expected to attend, according to the nonpartisan organization’s press release.

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to speak with both candidates during the free forum and learn about each candidate’s take on reforming the criminal justice system.

Kevin Malone, executive director of the SDOP, said there are a series of subjects that they will be discussing during the forum such as, addressing coerced plea deals, deeper investment in restorative justice, independent investigators for office related shootings and criminal justice reform.

“We believe that the entire system needs to be transformed and we need to move from punishment and to rehabilitation,” Malone said.

He added that the District Attorney’s role and power is not well understood and the importance of transforming the justice system, which disproportionately affects people of color.

According to the release, the forum will be one of the few times both candidates will attend an event together before the June 5 primary election.

The SDOP is also a part of an initiative to move county elections to November.

Both Stephan and Jones-Wright are first-time candidates, and both have different ideas of how the criminal justice system should be reformed.

With nearly three decades of experience, Stephan is focusing her campaign on ending and fighting sex crimes, working with schools to protects students from threats and preventing students from entering the “pipeline to prison,” and protecting victims, among other issues.

She was appointed as the Interim District Attorney in 2017 following then District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ announcement that she would not run for a fifth term.

Jones-Wright, a public defender, is tackling the issues of breaking the cycle of crime at the youth and adult level, bringing justice to victims, and accountability.

The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes felony crimes committed in the County, misdemeanor offenses outside the City of San Diego, provides assistance to victims of violent crimes, and participates in crime prevention programs.

The District Attorney is responsible for leading the office, which is the second largest DA’s Office in California, and manages a staff of over 1,000 individuals.

“District attorneys in California have tremendous power to impact the lives of millions of people,” the release reads. “Local clergy and community leaders with the San Diego Organizing Project will ensure the next DA is aware of the community’s values and encourage them to enact policies that build up families and communities.”

Registration will begin at 6 p.m. and the forum will being at 6:30 p.m.

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