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Invest in Our Children’s Futures

Our current DA’s approach to juvenile criminal justice relies too heavily on incarceration and contributes to racial and economic disparities. Yolo County is consistently above the state average in terms of the percentage of its youth who are in the criminal justice system, despite having a below-average rate of violent crime [1]. Moreover, the current DA’s use of “direct filing” (i.e., the prosecution of youth as adults) has overwhelmingly affected Latino youth in Yolo [2]. The current DA opposed Proposition 57, which eliminated prosecutors’ discretion to try youth as adults, legislation supported by 68% of Yolo voters. Racial disparities have been exacerbated by the DA’s overzealous pursuit of gang injunctions against youth in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in West Sacramento.

Like many Yolo community members, Dean recognizes that for too long, California has prioritized expanding its prison system over its education system, depriving our youth of opportunities to succeed. Together with supporters like you, Dean will invest in all of our children’s futures.

Together we will:

  • End unjust and overreaching gang injunctions
  • Support diversion programs that enable youth to access mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other forms of support, without entering the criminal justice system
  • End the school-to-prison pipeline in Yolo County

Make Yolo a Leader in Criminal Justice Reform

In many cases, the criminal justice system further victimizes the very same individuals and communities who are disproportionately impacted by crime. To truly serve the needs of crime victims, we must replace outdated and ineffective punitive methods with nuanced and evidence-based methods that prioritize both public safety and justice for all. Yolo voters have consistently demonstrated their support for forward-thinking criminal justice reforms, voting in favor of all recent reform initiatives. By contrast, the current DA did not support a single one of these measures. The existing approach to criminal justice in our county fails to reflect the community’s values, and prevents us from being leaders in the broader movement for criminal justice reform in California and beyond. Dean will partner with community members in making Yolo an innovator in criminal justice reform.

Together we will:

  • Use incarceration only for those who pose a true danger to public safety
  • Invest in programs that enable people to access mental health and substance abuse treatment without being pulled into the criminal justice system
  • Dismiss marijuana-related offenses, rather than burdening those affected with the costly and complex legal process currently required to clear these records
  • Stop seeking the death penalty in Yolo County, and support the passage of legislation eliminating the death penalty in California
  • Implement meaningful restorative justice programs that will allow crime victims to heal while making our community safer

Safeguard Our Community’s Resources

The current DA’s office utilizes an overly punitive approach to criminal justice, including overcharging and pursuing lengthy sentences. Yolo County currently has the highest rate of jury trials per capita [3], which is evidence of the current DA’s failure to negotiate reasonable pre-trial agreements. These practices are a misuse of our community’s resources and taxpayers’ hard-earned money. They divert money away from the things that truly keep our community safe and healthy, such as schools and health services, including accessible treatment for mental health problems and addiction. Moreover, because meaningful opportunities for rehabilitation are scarcely available during incarceration, the costs of our heavy reliance on incarceration compound over time.

Together we will:

  • Pursue holistic and evidence-based approaches to public safety
  • Reduce costs by using incarceration only for those who pose a true danger to public safety, and prioritizing the prevention of crime

End Practices that Punish People for Being Poor

The current approach to criminal justice too often makes it a crime to be poor. The majority of people in Yolo County’s jail are unsentenced—many of them because they are unable to afford cash bail [4]. Confining people before they have been tried simply because they lack the money to pay bail is discriminatory and inhumane, and a poor use of our community’s resources. Further, under the current DA, Yolo County has unreasonably burdened community members with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees and other costs associated with their incarceration. These financial burdens are particularly harmful to the families of youth in the criminal justice system [5].

Together we will:

  • End excessive cash bail and implement a sensible system that relies on fair and data-based assessments to ensure that the accused appear for trial
  • Eliminate the practice of charging exorbitant fees associated with incarceration
  • End practices that criminalize homelessness and poverty

Support the Most Vulnerable in Our Community

Dean understands that, when misused (as it all too often is), the criminal justice system deepens racial and economic disparities, and creates fear among our most vulnerable community members. As District Attorney, Dean will continue to listen to and advocate for communities of color, immigrant communities, working-class communities, LGBTQ communities, victims of gender-based violence, and the ex-incarcerated.

Together we will:

  • Implement programs that enable the ex-incarcerated to become rehabilitated and re-integrated into their communities
  • Ensure that the California sanctuary state bill (SB 54) is fully implemented in Yolo County, and that our local resources are not spent aiding mass deportation
  • Hold accountable corporations that fail to respect the rights and well-being of their workers, including farm workers, whose health and safety have long been disregarded in Yolo
  • Ensure that those working in the District Attorney’s Office reflect the diversity of our community
  • Rigorously evaluate how local criminal justice policies contribute to inequalities and enact necessary changes

Ensure Transparency and Accountability in the Local Criminal Justice System

Our local criminal justice system must serve the community, working to provide both public safety and justice for all. A number of practices in our county violate community members’ rights and liberties, including the seizure of property without clear and convincing evidence of criminal activity (a practice known as civil asset forfeiture [6]), and the prosecution of cases that lack convincing and legally obtained evidence. The current DA also undermines public safety and the community’s trust in government by failing to thoroughly investigate and prosecute cases of police misconduct. Dean will work to ensure that policies and decisions are transparent, and that there is public accountability so that justice may be fully realized for all.

Together we will:

  • Reform civil asset forfeiture, building in safeguards to ensure that the practice cannot be used to victimize innocent community members
  • Refuse to cooperate with federal agencies using illegal methods of surveillance, and refuse to prosecute cases using illegally obtained evidence
  • Support comprehensive independent investigations into officer-involved shootings and complaints of excessive force, and prosecute cases where there is evidence of police officers’ misconduct
  • Make Yolo County’s Conviction Integrity Unit effective, and work tirelessly to exonerate and free the wrongly convicted
  • Enact the highest standards to prevent others from being wrongly convicted

References

[1] Sources: California Sentencing Institute (data is available for download here); Board of State and Community Corrections, Yolo County profile (county profiles available for download here) .

[2] Since the county began reporting data on the demographics of youth affected by direct filing in 2013, 93 percent of youth direct filed have been categorized as Hispanic (the remainder are categorized as white). Source: California Sentencing Institute (data is available for download here).

[3] Statistic calculated using jury trial statistics from the 2017 Court Statistics Report, Judicial Council of California (available here), and population estimates from the State of California Department of Finance (data available for download here). During fiscal year 2015-2016, Yolo County had a rate of 89 jury trials per 100,000, compared to a state average of 24 jury trials per 100,000. Yolo County’s rate was the highest among 53 reporting counties.

[4] Between 2007 and 2016, the percentage of Yolo inmates who are unsentenced inmates has ranged from 58 to 84. Source: Board of State and Community Corrections (data can be accessed in the statewide and county-by-county datasets and tables available for download here).

[5] Source: Making Families Pay: The Harmful, Unlawful, and Costly Practice of Charging Juvenile Administrative Fees in California. 2017. Berkeley Law, University of California, Policy Advocacy Clinic (available here).

[6] 2016 Annual Report, Asset Forfeiture. California Department of Justice (available here).