Several reform prosecutors win election throughout US

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Reform prosecutors won election last week in several jurisdictions throughout the United States.

Among the reform-minded election winners was George Gascón, who ran for Los Angeles County district attorney as a candidate who opposes the death penalty, Law360 reports.

“This is really going to set the stage for what we must do as a criminal justice system,” Gascón’s campaign spokesperson, Max Szabo, told Law360. “In the state that invented ‘tough on crime,’ we’re seeing incredibly high rates of recidivism and high rates of homelessness among the same population. We would be foolish to think there is no link between the two.”

Law360 lists several other reform candidates who won prosecutor races, including:

• Monique Worrell of Florida’s Ninth Judicial District, who ran for state attorney on a platform to end jail time for minor drug offenses and to prosecute police officers when they commit assaults and murders. Worrell beat a “law and order” candidate, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

• José Garza of Travis County, Texas, won the district attorney office after pledging to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system. After his win, Garza said the voters “sent an unmistakable clear message that they expect a criminal justice system that treats every person fairly, regardless of their race, their ethnicity, of their income, of their immigration status,” KXAN reported.

• Karen McDonald won the office of Oakland county prosecutor in Michigan after campaigning to end cash bail and end jail time for nonviolent offenders.

The Denver Post notes that Democrats won district attorney races in two large Colorado counties in the First and Eighth Judicial Districts that were previously held by Republicans. Both candidates ran on reform platforms.

The reform shift isn’t unique to Colorado, said Alissa Marque Heydari, deputy director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“Even just 10 years ago people weren’t really paying attention to prosecutors’ races, and in the past few years people are starting to pay more attention to the criminal justice system and prosecutors in particular,” Heydari told the Denver Post.

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