SETH'S PLATFORM

Be Smarter on Crime and Follow the Science

We need to be smarter on crime. By understanding what we are doing we can eliminate bias, understand the effect of our policies on public safety and make sure we are accountable to the public. Currently, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office keeps unclear data and has no policies regarding data integrity. As District Attorney, I will:

 

  • Make robust investments in data and analysis to understand the effect of the District Attorney Office policies and procedures on public safety and our communities;

  • Develop data and research to drive prosecution and sentencing policies; 

  • Leverage the local technology ecosystem to create solutions to our data development and analysis; and

  • Publish our outcomes to the people of Alameda County.

Focus on Violent Crime

Violence strikes at the heart of our society. It destroys families, rips apart neighborhoods and strikes fear into our communities. Last year we suffered 134 murders in Oakland alone. Bay Area freeway shootings have more than tripled in the past three years. In 2021, almost half of these shootings occurred in Alameda County. The District Attorney must be focused on public safety. As District Attorney I plan to do just that by:

  • Ensuring prosecutors have the resources needed to prosecute violent cases;

  • Prioritizing cases involving gun violence; and

  • Supporting common sense gun safety laws: banning ghost guns, expanding background checks.

Lead Outside of the Courtroom

Many of the people who are victims of crime or defendants in criminal cases have been failed by other systems. The education system, local and state government all play outsized roles in limiting opportunities and underinvesting in low income and disenfranchised communities. That said, we have seen dramatic decreases in crime because of place based investment like greening and repairing programs in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Chicago. Teaching at Oakland Technical High School, I have seen first hand the positive effects of a good education.

By working collaboratively with other systems to address these problems, we will implement innovative solutions to address the root causes of crime. The District Attorney’s Office will:

  • Advocate for increased funding and use of evidence-based violence interruption programs and place-based investment in our hardest-hit neighborhoods; 

  • Support local and state budgets that finance trauma counseling, violence prevention programs, educational opportunities, and job development;

  • Work with public health community partners to approach gun violence as a public health crisis;

  • Increase voter participation, including people who have criminal records;

  • Work with the Alameda County Board of Education and school boards throughout the County to increase the high school graduation rate;

  • End qualified immunity for police officers; and

  • Support and expand the Pleasanton Mental Health Response Program, the Hayward Evaluation and Response Team, the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO), the Alameda CARE Team and other local civilian crisis response interventions.

Prosecute Officers Who Abuse Their Authority

We need to build trust by making the system fair. Black people make up 44% of people killed by law enforcement in Alameda County, even though they are only 11% of the population. Our communities have to know that law enforcement is not above the law. When there is evidence of criminal misconduct, we will investigate it like any other criminal misconduct and treat it accordingly. As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Hold law enforcement accountable;

  • Establish office-wide guidelines and practices to disclose to the defense the arresting officer’s history of misconduct at the earliest point of prosecution;

  • Work with police departments to develop policies and training to reduce violent interactions;

  • Not accept donations from law enforcement associations or unions; and

  • Advocate to end abusive practices at Santa Rita Jail.

Reform Youth Justice

Juvenile justice in California is changing significantly and I am excited to a part of the change. Just last year the California Supreme Court upheld Senate Bill 1391 banning 14- and 15-year-olds from being transferred to adult court. Additionally, Governor Newsom signed into law last year a bill that will shut down the California State Division of Juvenile Justice. That said, we need change here in Alameda County. The Ella Baker Center published a report last year noting that “Youth of color made up 100% of those held in Camp Sweeney and about 92% of those in Juvenile Hall.” As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Develop and implement a policy to no longer charge children as adults;

  • Expand diversion programs and alternative courts for youth;

  • Develop restorative youth justice programs;

  • Invest in youth community groups that can provide restorative justice and community-based support;

  • Partner with Alameda County School Board and school boards throughout the county to address policies and efforts to increase graduation rates; and

  • Create a Youth Advisory Board including formerly incarcerated youth.

Fight Racism and Bias

From Emmitt Till to Oscar Grant, the criminal justice system has failed our communities. In California, Black men are incarcerated in state prisons at 10 times the rate of White men and represent 28.5 percent of incarcerated men, despite making up only 5 percent of California’s male residents. According to PBS Newshour, 2021 is now the deadliest year on record for transgender people. Asian hate crimes have increased by 107% in California last year, with 700 anti-Asian incidents reported in the Bay Area alone. We must confront these disparities with action. As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Study and publish reports about disparities at arrest, intake and outcomes by charge;

  • Create a task force that develops policies to eliminate any disparities in case charging and sentencing decisions;

  • Engage in robust recruitment and hiring of the most talented, diligent, ethical and diverse attorneys in the office’s history.  Recruit annually at HBCU law schools, top-20 rated law schools, and Bay Area law schools to achieve this goal;

  • Improve policies and training regarding bias and discrimination;

  • Lead the fight against hate by seeking felony charges for hate-motivated crime;

  • #StopAsianHate and protect our LGBTQIA+ community; and

  • Protect the rights of women including reproductive freedoms.

Protect the Rights of Immigrants

Immigrant communities have contributed to the fabric of who we are as a people. Families, businesses, and communities enrich Alameda County with language, economic vitality and culture. The Alameda Department of Public Health has noted that Alameda County is the most diverse county in the Bay Area and the fourth most diverse county in the U.S. Nearly one third of all Alameda County residents are immigrants. As District Attorney I will protect our immigrant communities by:

 

  • Strengthening protections to keep families together, especially if conviction for non-violent offenses would result in deportation;

  • Establishing and seek advice from an Immigrant Rights Advisory Board; and

  • Meeting regularly with community-based organizations and advocates to address concerns. 

Expand Victim’s Rights

The rights of victims lie at the heart of justice. Too many times, the criminal justice system has ignored the needs and the voices of survivors of crime. We need to: 

 

  • Develop trauma-informed resources for victims and survivors of crime;

  • Create a Crime Victims Advisory Board representing communities who are disproportionately impacted by crime including women, communities of color, LGBTQIA+, disabled, seniors, and immigrants;

  • Decrease restrictions on victim compensation;

  • Provide services to all victims of violence, even if the police never make an arrest;    

  • Implement culturally informed training and policies that reflect our diverse community;

  • Fight for additional resources for victims of crime; and

  • Increase the language capacity of victim services to address the one-third of Alameda County residents who are foreign born and half of residents who speak a language other than English. 

Expand Access to Alternative Courts and Diversion Programs

Alameda County boasts a number of alternative courts and diversion programs. Unfortunately, they are underutilized. Of the 55,557 misdemeanors charged between 2017–2018, fewer than 2,000 people participated in diversion programs during that same period. Alternative courts provide services addressing trauma, mental illness, and substance use that seriously mitigate the likelihood of future violence and crime. As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Expand eligibility for alternative courts and expand the types of alternative courts to include Neighborhood courts and Community courts;

  • Expand access for diversion opportunities; and 

  • Ensure broad access to mental health treatment, substance abuse and other services.

End the Death Penalty

While still the law in California, I will never seek the death penalty. It is neither just nor fair. Governor Gavin Newsom implemented a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019. In November of 2021, the California State Committee on Revision of the Penal Code released a report on the death penalty concluding that the “death penalty as created and enforced in California has not and cannot ensure justice and fairness for all Californians.” As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Never seek the death penalty; and

  • Review the Alameda County cases on Death Row to consider resentencing these cases to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Eliminate Cash Bail

Cash bail has created a two-tiered system of justice where those with financial resources can remain free, while those who lack resources remain in jail. This is neither fair nor just. As District Attorney I will:

 

  • No longer seek cash bail for individuals who pose no danger to the community in accordance with California law; and

  • Focus pretrial detention efforts on a person’s risk to public safety.

Create a Resentencing Unit

While the criminal justice system has been tough on crime, there are new opportunities to reevaluate prior sentences. The non-profit organization For The People, pushed for and passed laws to create new tools for prosecutors, specifically the creation of prosecutor initiated resentencing. Last year, Governor Newsom signed into law the California Resentencing Pilot Program to fund District Attorney’s Offices throughout the state to reevaluate cases and use the resentencing tool. As District Attorney I will:

 

  • Participate in the State’s Resentencing Pilot Program;

  • Consider resentencing individuals over 50 years old who had served 20 years of their life sentence for a nonviolent felony; and

  • Institute a Sentencing Planning Program to tailor sentencing to meet goals of reducing recidivism.