Patrisse Cullors: Thanks for taking the time to have this dialog with me, DA Lacey. I’m very excited to have the ability to speak to you and know your ideas on the race and your function as a DA as we’re simply weeks away from this election. 

Jackie Lacey: I admire the chance to speak in regards to the good, the dangerous, and the ugly. I am wanting ahead to your questions.

Cullors: So the primary query is tremendous generic, however I might love your candid ideas. What does a district lawyer do and what’s their function in advancing justice and fairness? Why has this race, in your opinion, been known as the second most necessary race within the nation subsequent to the presidency?

Lacey: Most individuals do not understand what we do. That is the largest downside in educating voters. Most individuals will not are available in contact with the felony justice system and in some respects, that is a very good factor, however in some respects, it is a dangerous factor as a result of the one factor they hear about is perhaps after a case is filed or isn’t filed. In order a DA, I see our function as in search of justice, extra so than something. Circumstances come into us, police stories come into us, and it is our job as consultants within the regulation to find out whether or not against the law was dedicated and whether or not that is the best one that dedicated the crime, and is submitting the case the best factor to do. All of these issues are type of a guidelines in your thoughts; you need to have a look at all of these issues and make a dedication.

When it comes to the district lawyer of LA County, I actually see myself and anybody who has this job as a trendsetter, as a frontrunner, and that goes into why that is the second most necessary race [in the country]. Folks come from everywhere in the United States and everywhere in the world to review what we do, how we do it, and why we do what we do. In flip, we ship folks all through the world to coach them on areas that is perhaps international. So as an example, I despatched a staff of individuals to Uganda in 2019 as a result of we had been requested to return and train prosecutors the best way to plea discount. There, you keep in jail or jail for lengthy durations of time. And so we’re to be the leaders. As the pinnacle of that workplace, you are presupposed to affect the felony justice system, and also you’re presupposed to do it in a cautious method the place you may always remember the victims, proper, as a result of our function is to consider the victims and their rights.

Cullors: Thanks for that. The second query I’ve for you is, what are your prime three coverage priorities or reforms you’ll implement as quickly as you are reelected right here in one of many largest counties within the U.S.? The extra particular for readers, the higher.

Lacey: Okay, so the very first thing I do know that is going to occur is the voters will resolve whether or not to repeal SB 10, bail reform. So I am already pondering forward. What’s going to that appear to be? Ought to we simply go forward and do bail reform, the way in which we have been doing it the previous few months, if Prop. 25 finally ends up repealing SB 10? If not, then we have got to essentially get in gear and determine what threat evaluation software we’ll use from right here on out. In order that’s the very first thing I will be desirous about if reelected.

The second factor is, they’re closing down what was known as DJJ, the state juvenile justice system, and they are going to shift the incoming juveniles who would have gone to the state facility to the county. So I will be desirous about how can we pivot as a result of we have been doing juvenile justice a sure method for the final eight years, however we’ll must pivot and take into consideration the best way to get extra providers as a result of the juveniles we’re speaking about on the state degree are going to be people who find themselves charged with extra critical crimes and can be in want of extra critical providers. I do know the county is hurting. They do not have some huge cash, probation has been criticized, and probation may have the accountability for that. So I actually need to focus in on what can we do in a different way for the juvenile inhabitants that we’ll abruptly have on this county for a really quick time frame. Up till now, I’ve paid extra consideration to adults and psychological well being, however as you recognize, the onset of psychological well being can come method earlier than the age of 18, so I will be desirous about beginning a brand new committee to review juvenile justice and psychological well being with the aim being: How will we forestall folks from even getting concerned within the justice system? How will we forestall them from getting concerned within the first place, but in addition how will we put together these juveniles that we have now in order that they will safely reenter society and never return to no matter cause them to come into the juvenile justice system?

I hope to publish an replace on the blueprint for change. Loads nonetheless must be accomplished, however I need to see if we have to regulate these targets. What I’ve realized from this marketing campaign, Patrisse, is that campaigning is definitely very wholesome for you as a result of within the DAs workplace, you are likely to hearken to people who find themselves on employees. However while you’re out campaigning, you get recommendation and opinions from folks outdoors of the workplace. And so I actually need to kind a really considerate blue ribbon fee to take a look at how we have been doing issues within the DAs workplace and supply some recommendation and strategies for what we might do in a different way, how we might do higher by way of the recidivism charges, what can we do in regards to the police shootings, [examine] why are these instances so problematic, is there a unique mannequin [for addressing them]?

These can be the highest three issues, then additionally coping with having much less folks to work with due to the funds. We had been already down about 200 folks by way of employees, and we actually do not see our hiring freeze being lifted anytime quickly.

Cullors: Obtained it. That’s tremendous useful. The subsequent query is one that basically comes out of the present motion at each the native and nationwide degree across the prosecution of regulation enforcement. As you recognize, police killings aren’t particular to Los Angeles, however it’s a problem that has been lifted up fairly profoundly by not simply BLM LA, however numerous organizers and many involved folks about why regulation enforcement is seemingly unable to be prosecuted for acts of violence in the neighborhood.

For me, this query is completely pointed at you, however it’s not a query to make you’re feeling defensive. I actually need to hear you be reflective, as a result of I feel it should be useful for voters. There’s been 622 documented killings by the hands of regulation enforcement and there was just one filed case, one cost, in your years as DA. How do you assume that that may be shifted? Is that a spot of significance for you? How will we justify that many killings and never as many prosecutions? I’m curious from a journalist’s perspective, but in addition from a human being perspective, what limits you from having the ability to prosecute regulation enforcement who kills, and in case you’re reelected, is there room to have a unique form round prosecution of regulation enforcement?

Lacey: This too, clearly, is extraordinarily necessary to me on many various ranges. I stay with this subject, day in and day trip. From the minute I bought in, although I’ve by no means had any expertise attempting [these cases], I knew from sitting in on conferences, how—and I am unsure if that is the best time period—how emotionally invested you should be in taking a look at these instances, as a result of you recognize that not solely is the general public taking a look at you, however the folks you lead are placing on the case. They usually’re telling you what occurred and so they’re going by means of the regulation and so they’re telling you what the authorized evaluation is and the emotional evaluation in your coronary heart is, “These folks did not should die. If I had been there, that is what I might have accomplished. Could not they’ve simply let the individual go? How might you make a mistake and assume that that was a weapon?”

These sorts of issues all undergo your thoughts, and as an elected prosecutor your life flashes earlier than you since you notice that it doesn’t matter what name you make, your job is in jeopardy in every case. On prime of that, you are very a lot conscious that there are folks within the room who’re prosecutors who’re wanting as much as you and questioning, what are you going to do? Will you make the political name and save your self, or will you observe the regulation? And can you observe the regulation robotically, or are you pissed off about what you are seeing? And so our numbers, I had them counted up. There have been 341 individuals who have died by officer-involved shootings, after which we have now one other 20 to 30 who’ve died both of drug overdose, or asphyxiation, or suicide, and people are contested.

I’ll meet with a household this week and it is most likely the hardest assembly I’ll have as a result of they do not imagine their daughter dedicated suicide in police custody, and but my proof exhibits that she did. And moderately than persuade them, I am simply gonna hearken to their ache as a result of if one thing occurred to my daughter, I feel I would need to die. So the difficulty, as I see it’s proper within the code. It permits law enforcement officials to make use of lethal drive and nowhere within the code does it say that except it says it is advisable defend your self as a civilian. So there is a totally different regulation for law enforcement officials, after which the way in which our system is ready up, they do their very own inner affairs investigation and that more often than not the interviews are taped. I might say 99% of the time you hearken to them [and] a few of them are good. Some will not be so good as a result of they’re main and suggestive, however you are caught with their investigation of their very own.

Early on after we began listening to these interviews, I advised to regulation enforcement, “Hey, why don’t you’ve the sheriff do the LAPD, and the LAPD do the sheriff this 12 months?” as a result of the sheriff does do some investigations of unbiased companies. They had been very immune to that, and what I bought from the chief and from the sheriff on the time had been, “Nicely, we do issues our personal method. We deal with our investigations our personal method. Ours are totally different.” And it is true. They’re totally different. So I feel if there was a standardized unbiased investigation, with [a] set out protocol [and] finest practices—do you present the officer the physique digital camera video first, or do you get the assertion first?—issues alongside these traces, I feel would actually assist.

The opposite factor is in sure instances the place the neighborhood has lots of curiosity in a case as a result of the individual is unarmed or appeared to not be armed, the AG ought to have the ability to step in and take a few of these instances. Not that I am saying I am unable to be biased, however perceptions grow to be my actuality. So there are these issues. These two issues. After which I additionally assume, coaching. Each, each police officer in each division needs to be educated on de-escalating a scenario—and we have accomplished that. We have educated about 2,000 first responders and we have now seen the officer-involved shootings go down after they obtain this coaching as a result of the coaching is so totally different from the coaching they’re getting proper now, Patrisse. Proper now they’re being educated command and management, and clearly, when you’ve somebody in an altered state [due to] both psychological well being or substance abuse, generally simply backing off a bit bit, giving a bit bit extra time, the individual will begin to cycle by means of and settle down versus attempting to regulate somebody. So these are the straightforward adjustments I feel needs to be made: one, an unbiased investigative drive [where the] AG takes over a few of the extra problematic instances, and necessary de-escalation coaching for everyone who carries a gun.

Cullors: Thanks a lot for that. I need to ask two extra questions for you and would love to listen to about what insurance policies and our legal guidelines are you most happy with serving to to move or assist get signed into regulation, both on the state legislature on the native degree, to enhance the lives of youngsters and dealing households and LA County.

Lacey: I am biking by means of all of the stuff in my thoughts that we have been concerned in. I feel I am most happy with the legal guidelines that we have now handed as a way to make it simple for folks to get conservatorships, as a result of more often than not I hear from members of the family and it is heartbreaking. They’ve adults who do not essentially need to settle for that they’ve a psychological well being subject. So they have been actually small, nearly barely noticeable, however necessary legal guidelines, like as an example, conservatorships used to cease in case you bought arrested—the method would simply cease. And so we modified the regulation—as a result of it did not make sense—in order that it could proceed on. Additionally, in case you had been on parole or probation, you could not get psychological well being providers cash for therapy. So we bought that modified. I feel these issues assist. I feel the hardest one which we had been concerned in is altering registration legal guidelines. I nonetheless take warmth from [that] as a result of it is misunderstood. It was in case you had been convicted of statutory rape you needed to register for the remainder of your life and to begin with, that damage the one who who might not have been what we name a real little one predator, but in addition it flooded regulation enforcement with lots of registrations that had been pointless. If we actually need to preserve monitor of those that are the true predators, [it’s difficult] in case you’re flooding that database. That was arduous as a result of I had lots of legislators abandon me. They had been afraid of sponsoring that regulation or voting for that regulation. I am happy with it as a result of it was a threat. I really feel like if you are going to be brave, it is advisable take a threat. That is the best factor which you can find yourself dropping your job over.

Cullors: That is proper, and thanks for going by means of that. My final query is in regards to the function of police associations. We all know that police associations have been below heavy scrutiny within the final a number of months from the George Floyd protests and uprisings, and persons are actually taking a look at what police associations are doing or what they’re about. Some persons are even calling for police associations to be moved out of unions. We all know that your marketing campaign may be very a lot backed by police associations with numerous {dollars}, and I need to know how will you maintain regulation enforcement accountable in the event that they’re additionally very a lot supporting and backing you? Do you see a battle there, or do you not? What’s your opinion, what are your ideas on this?

Lacey: I feel the way in which to finest clarify it’s to make use of a case that was very unpopular. We really charged the LAPD officer, Mary O’Callaghan, with abuse of a girl by the title of Alesia Thomas. In my thoughts, I’m an unbiased thinker. I am an African American lady from the Crenshaw district. I current skilled, but when I must convey out the offended Black lady, I can do this. I can set folks straight and I can inform folks that is my determination. And I bear in mind after we charged her and we did not cost her with a demise, however we charged her with abuse as a result of the coroner’s report stated Miss Thomas died from an overdose, however I took lots of flack the primary time I went to the police and I used to be shocked. I assumed, I am simply doing my job. I am making the decision and I did. Among the union representatives did confront me and in the course of the assembly, and I informed them [to] have a look at the tape. The proof is there. We did the best factor and it was robust, no query about it. The police, the PPL members had been sad with me. They informed me that, however they didn’t change my determination.

I want there may very well be a documentary exhibiting what goes into these instances, as a result of the rule [is that] we do not have police and police unions within the room. It is my prosecutors, my investigators, and we’re methodically going by means of this proof. There are occasions we expect we need to prosecute, however the proof is simply not there. I agree with law enforcement officials on a regular basis on instances and it is arduous to inform you this, however I’m an unbiased individual. And belief me, I do know. I understand how to make up my very own thoughts. I am the lawyer within the room and I haven’t got any issues saying look, I went to regulation faculty and I am taking a look at this, and it is simply not truthful.

There have been instances the place I’ll not have had the union upset, however I’ve had a police chief who wished me to do one thing and I inform them no. It is not going to occur.

Proper now by way of cash, the one factor folks may give me now could be $1,500. And $1,500 is so much, imagine me. I do lots of telephone calling and asking folks for cash, however I keep my very own independence. I bear in mind within the Gabriel Fernandez case after we needed to cost these social employees, and we in the end ended up dropping that case. I used to be going to lose the SEIU. Largest union within the nation, very highly effective, some huge cash. However I had a useless child and I had some social employees who modified the scores [and] that eight-year-old in there to die. And you recognize what? My angle is, okay, as a result of I’ll do what’s proper, even when it means I pay for it later. And I’m paying for it. I typically say the minute you get this job, as a DA you make folks sad. You’re angering folks. Folks both need you to file a case or they’re mad at you since you did not file, and also you simply should have that unbiased streak the place you say that is what I’ll do.

Cullors: That case nonetheless haunts me. I take into consideration the Gabriel Fernandez [case] and I take into consideration that little one every single day. Actually, that is it. In order a mother of a four-year-old, I couldn’t wrap my head round it. And so, these sophisticated moments for somebody in your place to strive to determine: Who do you defend? He is gone, so who will get held accountable? I do know that there is a documentary, I feel you had been in it. I wished to observe it, however it was too infuriating, however tremendous useful to listen to.

Lacey: No, I used to be gonna say I made myself watch it as a result of I determine if that little one suffered then I can undergo [through watching it] as a result of we have to be taught no matter we have to be taught. We have to determine it out in order that eight-year-olds, six-year-olds, ten-year-olds aren’t dying like that.

Cullors: Are there any final issues that you just need to say earlier than we shut out?

Lacey: Usually throughout marketing campaign season, you recognize, you throw in barbs and digs at your opponent, [but] this does not look like the best discussion board for it. I simply need folks to grasp that the girl you see is the girl you get. I imagine in reform, however I additionally imagine in security. I grew up in a neighborhood the place we simply did not assume the police cared about our neighborhood as a result of they only did not present up on time or simply did not appear to work the instances. I imagine that my expertise and my background have uniquely ready me to proceed to maintain some stability in that DA’s workplace as a result of I might hate for it to be taken over by somebody who places themselves earlier than the wants of the neighborhood. That is my closing argument.

Patrisse Cullors is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and a senior fellow at Prism. Comply with her on Twitter @OsopePatrisse.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit information outlet that facilities the folks, locations and points presently underreported by our nationwide media. By our authentic reporting, evaluation, and commentary, we problem dominant, poisonous narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to construct a full and correct document of what’s occurring in our democracy. Comply with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.