By Michele Hanisee
While the internet may have flaws, one of its redeeming features is that those who have do not own a printing press or media outlet no longer have to rely on the largess of newspapers or media outlets to have their voice heard. The internet has allowed the ADDA to use our News & Advocacy section these past five years to provide factual information to the public as issues in the criminal justice system are debated.
Some do not like the facts we share in our articles because they clash with the false narratives spun by advocates of “criminal justice reform.” In fact, one article recently labeled us as the “notoriously anti-reform Association for Deputy District Attorneys.”
Contrary to those who claim the ADDA is “notoriously anti-reform,” the ADDA has consistently advocated for effective rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration. We criticized the CDCR’s failed rehabilitation programs. We applauded the successful rehabilitation rates of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. We called on the County of Los Angeles to stop the practice of charging probationers for supervision. We celebrated advances in investigative DNA technology that as recently as last week resulted in an exoneration. We lauded the Conviction Review Unit created by our office because, as prosecutors, we have an “obligation to ensure the truth.” We are proud of our efforts to do just that — to provide truthful, accurate information backed up by data.
In a series of articles, we pointed out that Governor Brown was deceiving the public when claiming his Prop 57 would only free “non-violent” felons. We pointed out that based upon the language of the statute, sex offenders and three-strike offenders would be eligible for early release from prison. Subsequent court rulings proved us correct. When the CDCR began granting early release to violent felons, we highlighted some of those releases.
When Governor Newsom announced his death penalty moratorium, we reminded the public that voters rejected the repeal of the death penalty and approved measures to ensure its implementation. As we noted, the Governor falsely claimed in 2016 he would respect the decision of voters on the death penalty, and lacked the courage to announce his contrary intention during the campaign for Governor. We followed up with a series of pieces that brought to life the victims, and the brutal and horrific end of their lives, at the hand of 24 inmates currently on death row who have exhausted their death penalty appeals.
Following the passage of Prop 47, we have repeatedly discussed the rise in property crime and called on the Legislature to fix its many flaws. We supported bipartisan common sense fixes to AB 109 and Prop 57, but unfortunately they were rejected by Governor Brown. We published a video which detailed the flaws of Prop 47, Prop 57, and AB 109, and then joined with crime victims, law enforcement, business owners and public safety leaders to place on the ballot a measure addressing those flaws. That measure will appear on the 2020 ballot.
We have commented in the past on the media marginalization of crime victims, and in 2018 published a piece that reflects what motivates the ADDA to continue to shine the spotlight of truth on the criminal justice system. I end this piece by repeating the ending of that piece: “It might be trendy to highlight ex-cons and berate the justice system for its flaws, real or perceived. Apparently not worthy of such treatment is the aftermath for the victims and families of those who suffered crimes such as murder, rape, robbery or child sexual abuse. However, as prosecutors we are proud to stand with victims of crime. We are proud to stand by the communities often forgotten in this brave new world.”
Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.