A 13-POINT PLAN FOR NEEDED CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
The County Attorney directs an office of over 230 attorneys and staff who ensure that citizens and taxpayers are protected in complex legal matters. To guide and evaluate the work of attorneys and staff, the County Attorney should have DECADES of legal experience and a DETAILED PLAN for ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair.
In addition to enacting my 13-point reform plan, as County Attorney I'll also work to ensure that EVERYONE in our community is protected in the face of other ongoing challenges to our quality of life, and that systemic bias is rooted out WHEREVER it is found.
Climate Change Accountability
Climate change is the most significant issue of our time. In August 2019, Travis County joined with hundreds of other local governments across the country and declared a climate emergency. As extreme weather becomes the norm, taxpayer costs associated with flooding, fires, displaced persons and other climate-related problems have significantly increased. I support Travis County joining other governmental units in litigation against major contributors to climate change. This litigation is similar to previous lawsuits against big tobacco and opioid manufacturers and the goal is to recoup taxpayer costs associated with climate change and incentivize polluters to rollout clean energy technology before it is too late.
Fast, Fair & Bias-Free Legal Service
Misdemeanors comprise 80 percent of all criminal charges, and a disproportionate number are brought against people from marginalized communities. A person with a misdemeanor on their record can face a number of problems including disqualification from student loans, housing, certain jobs, professional and trade credentials and favorable immigration status. While the Travis County Attorney’s Office has high standards, it must respond to increased numbers of cases and changing community expectations. I support improvements to case intake, diversion programs, removing impediments to speedy trials, improvements to prosecutor and victim services training and expunction assistance for those who cannot afford a lawyer. I also support technological solutions to victim and witness coordination and contact. For those who wish to turn their lives around, my goal is to restore them to productivity as soon as possible. For victims, it is crucial that public resources be focused on serious crimes such as family violence and DWI.
Mental Illness & Addiction Solutions
For many people, the jail is the mental hospital of last resort. I will explore and advocate for better options for people with mental illness or addiction, options that are not centered around the criminal justice system.
A person who has been charged with a misdemeanor is often at an entry stage in the criminal justice system. When possible, I want to give those who want to turn their lives around at this early stage the opportunity to do so.
Family Violence Resources
Victims of domestic violence are often re-victimized by their intimate partners and often have limited options for escape. I will prioritize additional resources and work for better communication and greater efficiency in this critical area.
"As a young activist, I was protesting for AIDS funding when police on
horseback tear gassed and trampled people to break up the crowd. I learned early on what it’s like to have the system that’s supposed to protect you turn against you. I’ve worked my whole life to make our justice system fairer. As County Attorney, I’ll continue that fight. I ask for your vote."