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Voters elect another cohort of prosecutors committed to justice reform.

In communities throughout the country, voters--many from marginalized communities most impacted by the criminal justice system--elected prosecutors who campaigned on platforms to change the justice system from the inside out by altering their office’s charging policies, reforming bail practices, and reducing the use of incarceration.See Nathalie Baptiste, “There Was a Blue Wave in District Attorney Races Too,” Mother Jones, November 7, 2018; and Kate Pastor, “Are Americans Finally Turning Away from ‘Tough-on-Crime’ Era?,” The Crime Report, November 12, 2018.

  • In Suffolk County (Boston), Massachusetts, Democrat Rachael Rollins, a former federal prosecutor and general counsel for Massachusetts government agencies, was elected district attorney, the first woman of color to serve as lead prosecutor in the county.Ally Jarmanning, “Democrat Rachael Rollins, the Next Suffolk County DA, is First Woman of Color to Hold Post,” WBUR News, November 6, 2018. She ran as a criminal justice reformer, listing 15 crimes that her office will decline to prosecute—crimes that one legal scholar has said are “frequently motivated by poverty, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse disorder, or some toxic interaction of these problems.”Rollins for District Attorney, “Charges to Be Declined”; and John Pfaff, “Boston’s New D.A. Pushes Back Against Prosecutors’ ‘Punishment-Centric’ Point of View,” The Appeal, November 14, 2018. A better response, according to Rollins, is “appropriate community-based, no-cost programming, job training[,] or schooling.”Pfaff, “Boston’s New D.A.,” 2018. Rollins has expressed a commitment to racial equity, as well as ending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) access to the office’s database.Rollins for District Attorney, “Policy.” She also supports ending the use of money bail.Rollins for District Attorney, “Policy.” Rollins also mobilized voters and organizers most impacted by the justice system for her campaign, including people currently incarcerated in two Massachusetts prisons.Rollins described her proposed policies and listed endorsements from incarcerated people and marginalized communities in an op-ed in August. Rachael Rollins, “Don’t Ignore the Need for Progressive District Attorneys,” Rewire, August 31, 2018. Endorsements are listed at Increased voter turnout in marginalized communities was evident as early as the 2018 primaries. See James Sutherland and Lawrence DiCara, “Did Primary Turnout in Boston Mark a Turning Point?,” Commonwealth, October 10, 2018.
  • In Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas, defense attorney Joe Gonzales was elected on a reform platform that included increasing diversion and limiting pretrial detention—in particular by pursuing bail reform so that people are not in jail simply because they are unable to afford to post bond.For election results, see Emilie Eaton, “Gonzales Wins Bexar County District Attorney Race,” San Antonio Express-News, November 6, 2018. For Gonzales’ platform, see Emilie Eaton, “Four Initiatives Joe Gonzales Plans to Prioritize as District Attorney,”San Antonio Express-News, November 7, 2018; and Joe Gonzales for District Attorney, “Platform.” Gonzales also supports the creation of a cite-and-release program in place of arrest for lower-level offenses, such as marijuana possession, shoplifting, and driving with an invalid license.Joe Gonzales for District Attorney, “Platform.” Also see Express-News Editorial Board, “Joe Gonzales for District Attorney,” San Antonio Express-News, October 3, 2018.