The job of the District Attorney is to seek justice, not merely prosecutions.
Your county’s D.A. has tremendous power to prosecute dangerous criminals, but also the power to divert certain people — especially veterans, youth, and those suffering from addiction, to programs designed to help rehabilitate them instead of simply locking them up. Dave would work with other community organizations including the new Ulster County Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center to create early diversion programs that provide participants with opportunities to avoid prosecution and arrest records while being held accountable in a community setting. Committing to divert these misdemeanor cases out of criminal court will reduce incarceration, and prevent the loss of housing, loss of employment, and the risks of deportation that often accompany such low level criminal prosecutions.
1. Fight the opioid epidemic with smart policy and compassion by seeking help for addicts instead of locking them up. Addiction is a disease, not a crime.
2. Stop the school to prison pipeline that funnels at risk youth, particularly youth of color, into the criminal justice system.
3. Implement bail reform by ending cash bail for low level nonviolent offenders, ending practices that disproportionately penalize low income individuals and their families.
4. Ensure transparency and accountability. The commitment to pursue criminal justice must include community outreach, crime prevention, civic engagement, and a determination to reduce racial and gender bias in law enforcement.
To help protect victims and their families, it will be a priority to implement trauma informed prosecutorial reforms. Too often victims become re-victimized by the justice system's neglect of their needs. Restorative justice approaches will help victims successfully reintegrate into society, and recover from loss and trauma.
As a victim of violent crime while a teenager, Dave understands the trauma, both physical and psychological, that victims of violent crimes endure. Empathy, compassion, support, and closure must be an enduring mission of the office.
As a criminal defense lawyer and public defense, Dave has seen firsthand how the criminal justice system has a biased and disproportionate effect on the poor, persons of color, women, and vulnerable immigrant communities. The “tough on crime” approach too often strong arms these communities and over prosecutes people without the resources to defend themselves. Sending nonviolent low level offenders to prison should be the last resort not the first.
Trust between the community and the prosecutor’s office is essential to maintaining the office’s legitimacy and moral credibility. Ensuring equal justice restores trust between communities and the justice system. As a result, law-abiding norms are encouraged along with collaboration and problem-solving.