Transparency is the cornerstone of public trust and ensures accountability for all elected officials. Currently, there is so little information made available to the public that it is not possible to hold the DA accountable for most of the decisions made about cases - the core of our criminal legal system.
As DA, transparency and accountability to the public will be my top priority. I will work with the community and advocacy organization to develop metrics that engage the public. I will invest our communities in holding informed conversations about prosecution policies and priorities. I will release race and gender demographic data concerning criminal legal system involvement, a standard been long requested by advocacy organizations. I will provide data on our referred and charged cases, our incarceration rates, and be transparent about plea offers, convictions, and sentences. Finally, I will work with others to publish a full suite of costs and benefits of differing approaches to prosecution.
Prioritize interpersonal violence prevention
The DA must ensure that the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assaults reflects the seriousness of these crimes and builds the trust of the impacted community and advocacy organizations. All those victimized by these crimes deserve to know that their trust is warranted, that their safety matters, and that additional harm is being prevented. As DA, I will prioritize the investigation, charging, and prosecution of these crimes.
Understand the role of poverty
Our courts disproportionately see Mainers struggling with access to basic resources, and the root of so many cases comes down to money. Criminal cases then further challenge the financial resources of defendants, who may have a summons simply because they are unable to pay for a registration, motor vehicle inspection, or a fine from a minor infraction. Without the resources to restore their driving privileges, their livelihoods are often threatened.
As DA, I will implement policies that allow defendants to repair an underlying problem in exchange for a dismissal in most such cases. No one should end up paying a fine for a criminal conviction when they lack the resources to restore their license, inspect their car, etc. This is simple common sense.
Youth and Young Adult Justice
In our criminal legal system, an 18 year old is an adult, but established science disagrees. Brains don't fully develop -- and teens and young adults don't consistently make decisions from the rational parts of their brains -- until about the age of 25. Not coincidentally, young people commit by far most of the crimes we prosecute, against a backdrop in which our nation lacks making investments in our young people.
The challenge is how to balance the fundamental need for safety of the community, the limited decision-making capacity of our youth, and the permanence of the consequences of convictions and exposure to incarceration. These are nuanced policy discussions that the community deserves to have in a public and informed way.
As DA, I will advocate for closure of Long Creek and the creation of more appropriately scaled and community-focused alternative facilities. I will advocate for the establishment of an oversight board to monitor and weigh in on administrative and policy decisions concerning juvenile justice cases and detentions. I will enhance the use of restorative justice, and begin to shift young adult consequences towards greater non charging and alternatives that lead to dismissals. Juvenile and young adult case policies need to be modernized and emphasize alternatives to avoid system induced trauma.
To secure real public safety, emphasize treatment over incarceration
The vast majority of those incarcerated are known to struggle with substance use disorder and/or mental health issues. Substance use is very often a foundational cause or co-occurrence with criminal conduct. To achieve lasting public safety, I will ensure that prosecutors center treatment over punishment when appropriate for people struggling with substance use and/or mental health. As DA, I will shift from failed traditional prosecution approaches and deliver measurably more effective outcomes that strive to avoid the permanent and negative consequences of convictions and prison sentences. If the goal is public safety, we can do better.
The DA must not look the other way when crimes are committed that are informed by discrimination or hate. As DA, I will set a hate crimes review policy to provide specialized and informed review of any cases in which hate or prejudice may be a factor in alleged criminal conduct. I will ensure that hate-informed crimes result in charges, public awareness, referrals to the AG when appropriate, and opportunities for teaching, restorative justice, and community healing. I will also publish an annual hate crimes review to keep this issue in the public eye and be accountable.