June 07, 2012
Prior to her historic victory Tuesday, the Sentinel spoke to candidate/now winning nominee Jackie Lacey about her vision as district attorney of L.A. County. Lacey opened with a statement about her qualifications for the top job.
Lacey: I think my entire life has prepared me for this position. In the district attorney’s office, I have done every job except sweep the floor. I’ve done zoning enforcement cases, I’ve prosecuted cases where an officer has been assaulted, I’ve prosecuted a serial child molester, I have had 11 murder cases. I prosecuted the first hate crime murder case based on race.
LAS: What general changes would you make in the way the DA’s office is run at present?
Lacey: I want to expand alternative sentencing. We don’t have enough money to send people to jail wholesale, and it’s wrong to send people to jail for being mentally ill. There is a significant population of African Americans who are suffering from undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, and they get arrested and sent into the criminal justice system.
LAS: What is your position on AB 109? (the bill that Governor Brown put forth to send prisoners from state to county facilities to alleviate overcrowding)
Lacey: I agree that California needed the change. I believe at one point the prisons were at 230 percent their capacity, which is inhumane.
What I disagree with is how quickly he thrust this responsibility onto the county. [AB 109] was passed in less than a day; I think it only took four or five hours. When we got the law, it took a team of lawyers a month to figure out what it was about.
I also think if the governor was going to shift all of these people over here, where is the money? You can’t just give us the problems of the state without giving us the money. And the money has not arrived. [Governor Jerry Brown] is counting on you guys voting for the tax increase in November.
LAS: What is your position on the death penalty? Can it be reformed?
Lacey: I think the biggest fear, morally, of the death penalty is that we do not want to execute the wrong person. I think we need checks and balances in place. Under my administration, [the DA’s] office would make absolutely sure the evidence points to the right person.
One of the reforms we have to do is streamline the appeals process. It suffers from a lack of training for lawyers to handle those appeals. Although I’m a prosecutor who has been on the side of seeking justice by seeking the death penalty, I believe everybody has the right to a fair trial.
I don’t think the answer is to do away with the death penalty because I believe after looking at some cases that it’s just the appropriate punishment.
LAS: If elected, what can L.A. county residents expect from you as D.A.?
Lacey: What they get in me is a woman who understands that people are human, who has come from the Crenshaw district. I’m an ordinary woman attempting to do an extraordinary thing. I think I am the kind of person you need.
I’m not ego-driven. I understand my place in the world. I understand that the criminal justice system needs someone who can make tough decisions, who can look people in the eye and tell them the truth. I’m here to serve.