Orange County’s top prosecutor says he wants to end mass incarceration, ban carotid holds, and ensure more accountability as he looks to address race-based prejudice in the criminal justice system.
“We as a society have engaged in systemic mass incarceration. As a prosecutor, I will stop it,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Feb. 10 in a press release. “We as a society have prosecuted people of color differently. As a prosecutor, I will stop it.
“We cannot fix a systematic problem without a systematic approach. That approach must be thoughtful, thorough, and include different perspectives, different experiences, and different ideas. Justice is not evidenced by the longest sentence; justice is what is best for the individual, the victim, and society as a whole.”
Spitzer released a series of guiding principles for the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office regarding the role of a prosecutor in society.
His initiatives include ending mass incarceration and banning the use of carotid holds by law enforcement within the OCDA’s bureau of investigation. The chokehold reduces or prevents air or blood from passing through the neck.
Rather than packing inmates into jails, Spitzer said lawmakers should instead utilize diversion and alternative programs when appropriate and when success is high. He wants cases evaluated based on criminal history, ability to rehabilitate, and victim concerns.
Spitzer also said he supports policies that prevent law enforcement agencies from investigating their own officer-involved shootings. He also backs an initiative requiring all officer-involved shooting medical exams to be conducted by an independent coroner.
When he released the policy positions and initiatives, Spitzer called on all of California’s elected district attorneys to discuss how prosecutors can address racism in the criminal justice systems.
“Seeking justice means we must constantly ask ourselves whether the system in which we hold so much power is working in a fair way for all people, from all backgrounds, experiences and beliefs, and who may or may not be citizens of this country,” Spitzer said.
“Where the system fails to be fair, we fail to be fair unless we improve the system. And where we have failed, we must acknowledge those failures as important steps in improving our own work, and the system of justice in which we do that work.”