Transcript: Remarks by Bobby Grace at KPCC’s AirTalk debate on May 29

Excerpt of remarks by Bobby Grace, Deputy District Attorney, at the KPCC debate for candidates running for Los Angeles County District Attorney

Debate moderated by Larry Mantle on May 29, 2012 

Bobby Grace, Deputy District Attorney. SOURCE: bobbygrace4da.com

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

That’s a good question. I think education is the civil rights issue of our day, and in my administration we are going to lower the truancy rates in Los Angeles County, which are dismal…We’re going to work with community organizations. We’re going to work with non-profit groups. And we’re going to work with law enforcement to both remind parents of their responsibilities but create incentives for kids to be in schools.

Larry Mantle: How can you do that thug with all the other demands just trying cases that the DA’s office has? 

That’s the great thing about the District Attorney’s office. We have our core mission, which is public safety but we also have a number of district attorneys who are involved in programs like Project LEAD where go out one day a week and talk to kids about how to avoid…

I would also make environmental prosecutions a bigger priority. There’s some things that we are missing in the county. For example, in the news recently was Magic Mountain has been allowing the run-off from their amusement park to go into a river adjacent. So we’ve got to jump back into that area and put more teeth into our environmental prosecution.

Two areas of responsibilities that Grace would de-emphasize as DA:  

I would be de-emphasizing code enforcement, and I would also de-emphasize regular misdemeanors.

Would Grace 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?

Well, it’s bad policy. It was bad policy when it was enacted. It’s bad policy now. And it’s contributed heavily to overcrowding in the prisons where the federal government had to step in. So we’ve got very serious problems with respect to the overall management of our criminal justice system and this is one way to make things fairer. Also, the enactment of that initiative (Three Strikes Reform Act) would save taxpayers millions of dollars. With a $15.5 billion deficit, I don’t see how you don’t do it.

Does Grace 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? 

[Yes.] I don’t have a moral objection to the death penalty. I have put people on death row, and if that’s the law in November after the election I will enforce the law…

It’s very clear – there has only been 13 people that have been executed in the state of California since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. So we are going and telling the taxpayers and voters and, more importantly, the family members of murder victims that they can expect that the person who killed their loved one is going to be executed when the truth is that they are more likely to die in prison than they ever will before they’ll see an execution chamber.

What could be done to reform the system to make it more equitable so that there would be fewer false convictions? Would Grace 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?

When we talk about best practices, a lot of times when people get [wrongfully] convicted it’s because of false confessions, things of that nature. There was something that came out in the news just recently – Brian Banks. So what we have to do is we’ve got to encourage all local law enforcement agencies to videotape their statements – all statements. We need to be asking for formal, photo identifications…that needs to be done, be uniform across law enforcement. There is a number of different things that we can do to encourage all of law enforcement – as the chief law enforcement officer of the county of Los Angeles, we should be taking the lead in asking people to do the best practices that they have.

Does Grace 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? 

Yes.

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 Grace support?

Actually, Texas is leading us with respect to alternative sentencing and reducing recidivism.

One thing I would definitely focus on is diversion programs for not only juveniles but first-time offenders on the adult side. So teen court at the juvenile level and then more and more alternative sentencing courts, particularly if we can get each judge in LA County to take a few more individuals on to their caseload. Each individual court could act like a drug court, which is the model that we know that works with respect to drug addiction.

 

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