Transcript: Remarks by Alan Jackson at KPCC’s AirTalk debate on May 29

Excerpt of remarks by Alan Jackson, Gang Homicide Prosecutor, at the KPCC debate for candidates running for Los Angeles County District Attorney 

Debate moderated by Larry Mantle on May 29, 2012 

Alan Jackson, Gang Homicide Prosecutor. SOURCE:

Two areas of responsibilities that Jackson would move up in priority as District Attorney:

“The highest priority – it’s hard to say, Larry, that I would prioritize one thing over another. There’s a panoply of things we need to do different and expand on in the DA’s office. One of those is modernizing the District Attorney’s office. Under the larger rubric of modernizing the DA’s office, we do need to expand the high-tech crimes division. Why? Because cyber crimes are on the increase. They’re on the rise. It’s the fastest growing crime in Los Angeles County, which makes it the fastest growing crime in California – also the fastest growing crime in the United States…

“The second thing that I would do is expand the public integrity division. I truly believe that corrupt public officials strike at the heart of our democracy in a way that almost nothing else does. We almost can’t trust anything if we can’t trust our public officials.”

Two areas of responsibilities that Jackson would lower in priority as DA:  

“It’s very difficult to ask us to de-emphasize anything. If I had to choose, I would probably de-emphasize things like code enforcement, things like lower-level misdemeanor infractions…They absolutely are quality of life issues but if we had to choose between code enforcement and misdemeanors and felony offenses, you can betcha I’m going to focus on felonies.”

Would Jackson like to see a review of cases under the previous district attorney life sentences under three strikes that wouldn’t qualify now but did then, go back and review those cases and perhaps file for a shorter sentence?

“Because the last thing you want in any public safety official or any official that you hire onto a job like this is decision-making that’s arbitrary and capricious. There should be uniformity among sentencing. There should be truth in sentencing. The public, I think, deserves to understand what can be expected in sentencing. And just because there’s a change to an administration doesn’t mean that the people who were sentenced under the prior administration should not get the benefit or detriment – whatever the case may be – of the law that’s currently in place. So I do think that there’s some value to going back and making a determination if we can. If somebody would have gotten a second strike presumed sentence under our administration, then I would suggest that we go back and review that case for exactly that purpose.”

Does Jackson support an initiative in November on the ballot calling for cases that would have typically been prosecuted as death penalty to be maximum sentenced life in prison without parole?

“[No.] I do believe the death penalty serves an important purpose in the justice system. I believe that it should be utilized extremely judiciously – only in the rarest circumstances. I have tried death penalty cases. I have secured – or the jury in front of whom I tried death penalty cases has fixed the punishment of death in two of the two cases that I’ve tried for death. I believe that this office should not politicize the issue, however, and I think that’s one thing that separates me from some of the other candidates as well. I don’t believe the office should ever take a position as an advocate or detractor from something like the death penalty.

“Look, we’re in a job that requires us to enforce the law as you the community members decide the law through the legislative process or through the initiative process as long as that still exists here in California.

“I would not work against [the ballot measure]. If it is the law, I will enforce it. I will enforce it judiciously…If it’s not the law, that’s fine too.”

What could be done to reform the system to make it more equitable so that there would be fewer false convictions? Would Jackson support the DA’s office taking the lead in coming up with best practices that are used in everything from police interrogations down to the full sharing with defense attorneys of all kinds of information that might help avoid the prospect of a false conviction? 

“Yes, absolutely I support any initiative, any process, any stretch, any focus on reducing false convictions.

“One thing that undermines the justice system as we know it is a false conviction.

“DNA is obviously at the forefront of the Innocence Project. DNA is at the forefront of modern prosecutions and modern investigations.

“One of the things that we need – I mean, I can boil it down to this: We need three things – money, money, and more money in the judicial system. Why? Because that gives us advantages that we didn’t previously have.

“For instance, we are literally doing DNA testing in cases of auto theft and auto burglary. In 1988 when the first DNA case was utilized, RFLP testing, etc., it was horribly expensive…

“As well as the other forensic sciences – fingerprinting, things of that nature.”

Does Jackson think a state ballot measure that would allow for the legal operations of storefront collectives where money is exchanged and places to where marijuana is delivered will be legal under the law? 

“I do believe so as long as they’re not profiteering under Prop. 215. [They can accept cash] but the cash has to go back into the cooperative.”

What is the DA’s office’s role in rehabilitation or alternative sentencing? Are there really sources there to do rehabilitation at the DA office level? What kind of differential or alternative sentencing would Jackson support?

“Absolutely. It’s incumbent upon the District Attorney’s office – it’s the largest prosecution agency in the country – to embrace rehabilitation as part of its overall mission.

“The alternative sentencing courts…women’s re-entry court, drug court, Prop. 36. A project that’s not being piloted here in Los Angeles that should be piloted called Project Hope, which is a triage model of – a relatively parsimonious triage model for probationers that literally changes behavior. That’s something that we should embrace and adopt.”


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