Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Contra Costa DA Becton supports one-sided bill limiting police union influence in elections

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

First-in-the-nation legislation labeled “Cure the Conflict” to require prosecutors recuse themselves from investigating, prosecuting police misconduct if they’ve received campaign contributions from police unions

Does not include similar provisions for contributions from criminal defense attorneys

Becton wants to take it further and ban contributions from police unions to DA candidates; refuses to answer questions

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. From CCC website.

By Allen Payton

In her continued effort to limit the influence of police unions in supporting and electing candidates for district attorney, Contra Costa DA offered support on Friday, Oct. 23 for the bill by California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) that will require elected prosecutors to recuse themselves from the investigation and prosecution of law enforcement misconduct if they accept financial contributions from law enforcement unions.  The legislation will be sponsored by the Prosecutors Alliance of California and co-sponsored by numerous District Attorneys.  It will be introduced when the new legislative session convenes in December.

“This is about trust in law enforcement, and trust in the independence of our elected prosecutors,” said Bonta.  “As people across our cities, states and our nation have come together to raise their voices and demand greater justice, we must cure the conflict of interest that gives, at minimum, the appearance that police are not held accountable due to the proximity and political influence of law enforcement associations and unions.”

“Now, more than ever, prosecutors have the responsibility to promote equal justice and build trust with the communities we serve. In order to do that, we must eliminate the conflict of interest existing when elected prosecutors accept police union support,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.  “It is only when prosecutors are not financially beholden to law enforcement unions that the public can be confident in the decisions prosecutors make about holding police officers accountable.”

“Law enforcement unions generally finance the legal representation of an accused officer, and when prosecutors receive financial support from the entity funding the defense a conflict of interest arises for elected prosecutors,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.  “To restore trust in law enforcement we must cure this conflict.”

Recently, the Prosecutors Alliance of California called on the State Bar to create a new rule of professional responsibility to preclude prosecutors from taking police union money.  The Alliance took this step in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in an effort to increase the independence of prosecutors from police. The State Bar is scheduled to reconvene tomorrow to continue discussions on the topic.

According to a June 1st press release from Becton’s office, “The Prosecutors Alliance of California is a non-profit organization that provides public education, support and training to prosecutors and their offices. The Prosecutors Alliance of California Action Fund is a social welfare organization that advocates for criminal justice reform legislation, engages and educates the public on criminal justice ballot measures, and supports candidates for state and local office who advocate for comprehensive reforms to our justice system.” (See related article)

The bill by Bonta to be considered by the Legislature will take a different path. Rather than precluding prosecutors from soliciting or accepting law enforcement union contributions as Becton supported earlier this year, it requires a prosecutor that accepts a law enforcement union’s contribution to recuse themselves from the decision-making process if one of the organization’s members is suspected of criminal conduct. In such cases, the State Attorney General’s Office would be asked to handle the case.  This will help reassure family members, community stakeholders and the public that decisions are made based on the facts and the law, not political horse trading and back scratching.

According to Becton and Bonta, “by closing this loophole, the Legislature will reduce the presence of conflicts of interest and ensure independence on the part of elected prosecutors. This legislation also aspires to help reestablish community trust in the integrity of prosecutors at a time when national events have damaged that trust.”

A question was sent to Becton on Oct. 23 asking her if she also supports DA’s recusing themselves from cases involving prosecution of public defenders or criminal defense attorneys who have contributed to the campaigns of elected prosecutors.

That was along the same lines of the questions sent through Scott Alonso, her department’s public information officer, earlier this year to which Becton never responded. She was asked specifically, will she try to ban political campaign contributions to DA candidates from criminal defense attorneys and public defenders and not just police unions?

Following is the email message with questions sent to Alonso for Becton on June 1 regarding her press release entitled, “LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADERS CALL ON STATE BAR TO CREATE NEW ETHICS RULE TO END THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST BETWEEN PROSECUTORS AND POLICE UNIONS – New Ethics Rule Would Help Restore the Independence, Integrity, and Trust of Elected Prosecutors by Preventing Them From Taking Donations From Police Unions”

“Scott,

Please ask DA Becton to clarify her comment because it’s not clear what she’s trying to say and answer my questions, below.

“The legal representation of an accused officer is generally financed by their law enforcement union,” said Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton.  “It is illogical that the rules prohibit prosecutors from soliciting and benefiting from financial and political support from an accused officer’s advocate in court, while enabling the prosecutor to benefit financially and politically from the accused’s advocate in public.”

Is she saying that currently a prosecutor cannot solicit and benefit from financial and political support from an attorney representing a police officer accused of a crime while in court or during the court case? But the police officer’s attorney can support the prosecutor financially and politically when not in court or during the court case?

Please clarify who the accused is in her comment about the “accused’s advocate”. I assume it’s the same accused officer she refers to twice before in her comment. But, not sure.

Also, are she and the rest of the DA’s willing to forgo any financial contributions from criminal defense attorneys and public defenders? How about no financial support from any organization and only from individuals who live within their counties? How far should this go to ensure fairness in prosecutions? Isn’t this really one-sided? Also, if the police unions have so much influence in our county and they all backed Becton’s opponent in the last election how did she still win? Isn’t she in effect attempting to violate the free speech rights – which political campaign contributions have been defined as by the courts – of the police unions?

Alonso responded that because the questions were political, he could not respond, even though the press release was sent from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office through his email account. Further efforts asking him to forward the questions to Becton and getting her to respond were unsuccessful.

The latest question about the proposed legislation by Bonta and the questions from June 1st were sent to Becton’s personal email address on Friday, Oct. 23

Previously, a phone call to her was made asking her about the issue, but Becton was watching a Zoom meeting and said she didn’t have time to discuss it.

To date, Becton has yet to answer any of the questions posed to her about her efforts to only limit the influence of police unions in elections for district attorneys and not also limit the influence by criminal defense attorneys.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County contributed to this report.

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Three candidates for Antioch Council slam Mayor Wright for his attacks on DA Becton’s policies, compare him to President Trump

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

By Allen Payton

A coordinated email blast was sent out to Antioch residents on Saturday, Oct. 10, entitled “Mayor Sean Wright Lies – a Page Out of Trump Playbook” by Councilmember Monica Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and council candidate Nichole Gardner who is running in District 3. It follows on the heels of the letter to the editor sent out by Contra Costa County District Attorney blasting Wright for his response to her policy on charging people for looting during a state of emergency. (See related articles, here and here). They shared her letter to the editor, again.

They also injected partisan politics into the campaign for the non-partisan offices of mayor and city council, labeling Wright a Republican.  The three also attempted to tie Wright to the president calling him “Antioch’s Baby TRUMP”.

The email was sent out from Wilson’s personal account and the link to photo of the three candidates takes you to her campaign Facebook page.

When reached for comment, Wright responded, “Antioch is at the crossroads when it comes to crime. If my fellow electeds don’t see that, they are wearing blinders and putting our residents in harm’s way. Antioch CANNOT support any policy that allows shoplifters, looters or individuals in possession of hardline drugs like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines to go scot-free. Calling me names or wrongly associating me with politicians I don’t even know won’t change my position on this issue.”

From: Monica, Joy & Nichole <wilsonme@gmail.com>

Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2020, 05:44:25 PM PDT

Subject: Mayor Sean Wright Lies – a Page Out of Trump Playbook

 

We are beyond disturbed by Republican Sean Wright’s dog-whistle attacks on people of color. He’s clearly cut from the same cloth as Donald Trump. He makes a mockery of serious public policy on social media like Trump. He lies about almost anything like Trump. And, he literally has contempt for poor people like Trump. Below is a letter from our county’s top law enforcement officer, District Attorney Diana Becton about Sean Wright’s lies.

 

 

 

 

Dear Antioch Residents:

“The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.” Recently, Sean Wright, the Mayor of Antioch has made repeated distorted untruths about the District Attorney office policies, and about my record as your District Attorney. To have an elected official, make distorted truths, and then hide his head in the sand and refuse to learn the true facts is troubling, to say the least. I take transparency and accountability very seriously, as any elected official should.

Facts matter. First, the Mayor bought a political smear hit piece from a biased website about looting. He never reached out to me to find out what my office guidelines actually require.  The guidelines do not prohibit the filing of any looting case – in fact, just recently, we filed a felony looting case. The truth is, my office guidelines assist prosecutors in making the distinction between thefts and burglaries that merely happen while we are in the pandemic, and lootings which are substantially motivated by a state of emergency. The guidelines are on the District Attorney website. I encourage you to read them.

Second, your mayor attacked our office policies regarding low-level, stand-alone drug cases. What he fails to mention is that initially these cases are referred to the behavioral health care system for treatment. Please do not forget the failed policies of the War on Drugs. Arresting citizens for possession of small amounts of drugs, taking them to jail, and releasing them without treatment ensures that these individuals will soon be arrested again, and so the cycle continues. The aim of my office policy is to stop chronic patterns of arrest, to connect individuals to behavioral health services, to reduce the burden on the court system and law enforcement, and to allow prosecutors to focus on more serious and violent crimes.

Of course, repeat offenders can be charged, diverted, or suffer additional consequences.  As the chief law enforcement officer for the county, I take my oath seriously to protect the public. However, clogging our criminal justice system with low-level crimes does not deter crime nor find equitable solutions for our community. I am focused on common-sense solutions that are fair and equitable, and good for the entire community.

Here are some items to keep in mind during this election season. We cannot let lies get in the way of the truth, even during campaign season. The mayor is making this a political attack against me in order to bolster his campaign for re-election, and to take swipes at his East Bay Times endorsed opponent, Lamar Thorpe. Stand on our own record Mr. Mayor, and please stop trying to bolster your platform by making distorted claims about our office policies.

During the election season, we hear from elected officials about their vision for their community. Unfortunately, despite his message of unifying the community, your Mayor is trying to divide Antioch and use our office as a foil and create a controversy when none exists. Examine the facts. Facts matter.

Sincerely,

Diana Becton
District Attorney, Contra Costa County

 

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DA Becton claims Antioch Mayor Wright made “repeated distorted untruths” about her policies

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton and Antioch Mayor Sean Wright. Herald file photos.

Filed felony looting case, refers low-level drug cases to behavioral health care system for treatment

Dear Antioch Residents:

“The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.” Recently, Sean Wright, the Mayor of Antioch has made repeated distorted untruths about the District Attorney office policies, and about my record as your District Attorney. To have an elected official, make distorted truths, and then hide his head in the sand and refuse to learn the true facts is troubling to say the least. I take transparency and accountability very seriously, as any elected official should.

Facts matter. First, the Mayor bought a political smear hit piece from a biased website about looting. He never reached out to me to find out what my office guidelines actually require.  The guidelines do not prohibit the filing of any looting case – in fact, just recently, we filed a felony looting case. The truth is, my office guidelines assist prosecutors in making the distinction between thefts and burglaries that merely happen while we are in the pandemic, and lootings which are substantially motivated by a state of emergency. The guidelines are on the District Attorney website. I encourage you to read them. (See related article)

Second, your mayor attacked our office policies regarding low-level, stand alone drug cases. (See related article) What he fails to mention is that initially these cases are referred to the behavioral health care system for treatment. Please do not forget the failed policies of the War on Drugs. Arresting citizens for possession of small amounts of drugs, taking them to jail, and releasing them without treatment ensures that these individuals will soon be arrested again, and so the cycle continues. The aim of my office policy is to stop chronic patterns of arrest, to connect individuals to behavioral health services, to reduce the burden on the court system and law enforcement, and to allow prosecutors to focus on more serious and violent crimes. Of course, repeat offenders can be charged, diverted or suffer additional consequences.  As the chief law enforcement officer for the county, I take my oath seriously to protect the public. However, clogging our criminal justice system with low-level crimes does not deter crime nor find equitable solutions for our community. I am focused on common-sense solutions that are fair and equitable, and good for the entire community. 

Here are some items to keep in mind during this election season. We cannot let lies get in the way of the truth, even during campaign season. The mayor is making this a political attack against me in order to bolster his campaign for re-election, and to take swipes at his East Bay Times endorsed opponent, Lamar Thorpe. Stand on our own record Mr. Mayor, and please stop trying to bolster your platform by making distorted claims about our office policies. During the election season, we hear from elected officials about their vision for their community. Unfortunately, despite his message of unifying the community, your Mayor is trying to divide Antioch and use our office as a foil and create a controversy when none exists. Examine the facts. Facts matter.

Sincerely,
Diana Becton

District Attorney, Contra Costa County

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Contra Costa DA begins next phase of criminal justice reform efforts with Vera Institute of Justice

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Program promotes racial equity in prosecution and reducing the use of jails; only one of seven DA’s offices in the nation; will host six weekly podcast-styled video discussions beginning Wednesday

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County

Martinez, Calif. – Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced, Monday the next phase of work with the Vera Institute of Justice. The DA’s Office first partnered with Vera in 2018 to take a critical look at the inner workings of the office through a data driven focus. Vera’s Reshaping Prosecution program offers reform minded prosecutors to opportunity to analyze their own data, policies, and practices with a lens toward reducing racial disparities and mass incarceration, delivering justice, and pursuing public safety.

According to the organization’s website, “Vera is partnering with prosecutors to put their campaign promises into action as concrete, data-informed policies and practices.”

The website continues with, “Across the country empowered communities have demanded a new approach to criminal justice by electing prosecutors committed to change. Standing on forward-looking platforms including promises of bail reform, diversion, and ending mass incarceration, a new generation of prosecutors in Chicago, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Orlando, Contra Costa, Denver, St. Louis and elsewhere are part of a small but growing cadre who understand what many Americans have also learned: that ‘tough on crime’ does not equal public safety.”

According to the organization’s Facebook page, it was founded in 1961 and “works to secure equal justice, end mass incarceration, and strengthen families and communities across America.”

The DA’s Office has shared data from the Office’s case management system from the time period of January 1, 2014 to July 30, 2019. Once the data and policy analysis are complete, Vera will present their findings and recommendations to DA Becton. After the findings have been analyzed internally and shared officewide, they will be publicly released.

“Our community is calling for a more transparent and equitable criminal justice system. I am excited to partner with Vera to work on those long-standing issues, especially around the analysis of our data. Data from any law enforcement agency tells a story,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton stated. “We need this data analysis to improve our communication with the public and our law enforcement partners. As a former judge and now district attorney, I understand the systemic issues in our county with racial disparities. We must think critically about how best to improve our operations and work with our law enforcement partners to ensure our prosecutions are just. With this partnership with Vera, we can shine a light on our practices and make informed decisions to better protect the public.”

Contra Costa is one of only seven prosecution offices nationwide participating in the Reshaping Prosecution program. Each office will have a designated internal working group that will reflect on a range of topics including: a deeper dive into the historical role of the prosecutor, working with your community and exploring what justice looks like, and discussions around building group cohesiveness to lay the foundation for successful implementation of reforms.

“Vera applauds District Attorney Becton’s commitment to racial-equity and transparency,” said Jamila Hodge, Director of the Reshaping Prosecution Program at the Vera Institute of Justice. “Our partnership will address the disparities that have impacted Black, brown, and Indigenous communities in Contra Costa County by providing analysis and policy solutions, critical steps to reduce harm, rebuild trust, and deliver the safety and justice our communities deserve.”

Training and exposure to different ways of thinking is also an important component of the partnership. For six weeks, beginning October 7th, Vera will host a weekly podcast-styled video discussion series focused on why racial equity is integral to the prosecutorial role, and how prosecutors can center racial equity in decision making. The series will feature criminal justice experts from across the country who will cover a range of topics including: Origins of the Criminal Justice System; Centering Human Dignity; Accountability vs. Punishment; Restorative Justice; Community Well-Being; and Action Steps for Prosecutors.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Letter writer supports DA Becton’s reforms and Sean Wright for Antioch Mayor, endorses Lewis for school board

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Since this appears to be an issue, I’d like to make something clear.

District Attorney Diana Becton is brilliant, someone I admire and respect and am blessed to be able to consider her a friend.  I 100% believe she is making resource decisions that are difficult and should not be challenged until or unless you understand resource limitations.  This is not about her protecting criminals. It is about making sure we have the resources to prosecute violent and high-level crimes. I agree with that and support the decisions she has had to make.

With that said, since I am an adult and have the right to make my own decisions, I am supporting Sean for Mayor.

I also supporting Fernando Sandoval against Greg Enholm, and Clyde Lewis for school board.

I also support Tammany Brooks our Police Chief, and anybody that calls him racist should research his background.  His father is Black and he grew up in the hood and knows more about crime and real life more than many people I know. He grew up the way I did, and I have nothing but respect for him.

If this offends anybody, that’s your right.

I have one more thing to say everybody.

I can’t not share other things I know about people running for office during election season.

Although I was and still am hurt by Ken Turnage’s opinion about older people because of my own age, I would be wrong to not share that Ken helped save the lives of one of my students and one of my family members by blessing them with jobs and emotional support when they both needed it.

Iris Archuleta

Antioch

 

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Mayor Wright condemns “another disturbing announcement” from our District Attorney

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

Photo courtesy of Sean Wright for Mayor campaign.

Say “Hello” to more drugs on our streets

Mayor Sean Wright.

Antioch Residents,

I emailed you recently about Contra Costa County District Attorney’s surprise announcement requiring prosecutors to consider “need” before deciding whether to charge an individual with LOOTING. Last week, the DA made another disturbing announcement.

Individuals caught possessing smaller quantities of heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines WILL NOT BE CHARGED with a crime. UNBELIEVABLE. It gets worse. Actually, an individual can be caught three times in the span of a year and STILL NOT GET CHARGED for drug possession. (See related Herald article)

In effect, what the DA has done is legalize drugs in our county. I worry about how this might increase drug use among youth and increase crime in our City. I would be interested in your thoughts – please CLICK HERE to send me an email.

My opponent, Lamar Thorpe, is a huge supporter of the District Attorney’s policies and supported her re-election (click here for documentation). If elected, I worry that he will embrace policies that favor criminals, which would do more damage than not to our community.

Thank you for reading this message.

Dr. Sean Wright – Antioch Mayor

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Letters – Council candidate White responds to “Women Leaders Condemn Remarks by Antioch Mayor”

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

Publisher’s Note: This was received in our email on Sept. 21 but was inadvertently overlooked, until today.

Sandra White.

Dear Editor:

My name is Sandra White, and I am running for Antioch City Council, District 4.  I want to make everyone aware of the current state of politics in the City of Antioch, and why I am running for office.

Some of our current City Council members are trying to defund the Antioch Police Department, use taxpayer dollars to put homeless in a hotel that is a stone’s throw away from residential neighborhoods and a school; and are trying to divide the residents of Antioch using race-baiting tactics to accomplish the election of candidates who will further the above agenda.

On September 8th, 2020, some Antioch residents received an email that appears to have come from my opponent in District 4.  It seems a candidate for mayor orchestrated a smear tactic directed at Mayor Wright, who came out against District Attorney Diana Becton’s undefined guidelines for the prosecution of looters.

Screenshot of email provided by Sandra White’s campaign showing the source of the email.

In the article, my opponent implied Mayor Wright’s comments were somehow divisive because he disagreed with the DA’s allege pro-criminal approach to dealing with offenders in our community.  The smear piece suggests that the mayor’s statements were somehow based on DA Becton’s race and gender.  These types of divisive politics are toxic for Antioch, and things need to change.  As an African American woman, I am offended when people try to use race and gender to divide us, as my opponent alleges smear piece tried to do.

For the record, I am pro-police and believe the Antioch Police Department is understaffed.  I am currently a volunteer for the City of Antioch as the Chair of the Police Crime Prevention Commission.  I have met with many of you in my district to assist with making our neighborhoods safer.  When I am elected, I will be better positioned to make our entire community even safer.  I genuinely believe we do not need less police; we need more officers and mental health resources to assist our police department. Our understaff police department is inundated daily with calls that can be handled by a Crisis Prevention Unit.

The safety of you and your family will be my priority.  When I am elected to office, I will ensure our police department continues to model “Best Practices” within the Law Enforcement community. I stand with Mayor Wright and believe that after our police officers arrest criminals for victimizing our businesses, they should be held accountable and prosecuted.

Regarding our Homeless population, we all agree; there needs to be a solution.  Many of our homeless residents have mental health and drug/alcohol addiction issues. The only way the Homeless situation can drastically improve is by getting needed services and funding on a county and state level and laws and policy changes that allow families to intervene to get their loved ones help.  To suggest a Homeless hotel in a residential / school neighborhood (costing at least $1 million) without wrap-around services is reckless and a waste of your tax dollars!

We need to bring back businesses to Antioch taking the approach that our neighbors to the East and West have done.  Do you ever ask yourself why companies are not coming to Antioch? It is simple; we have crime and blight issues that are not my opponent’s concern and other members of the city council.  If we want to attract businesses, we need to lower our crime, beautify our city, and work with county and state officials to get our Homeless population to reduce the number of homeless residents.

If you are happy with Antioch’s current “status quo,” such as the conditions related to blight, low police staffing, increase in homelessness, and crime, then I am not the candidate for you.

We should all want our community in Antioch to become a positive change with a fully staffed police department, businesses returning to Antioch, a thoughtful and focused approach to reducing blight, homelessness, and quality of life issues. In that case, I am that candidate, and I hope you will vote for Sandra White, for Antioch City Council, District 4.

Sandra White

Candidate

Antioch City Council, District 4

 

Women Leaders Condemn Remarks by Antioch Mayor

Antioch, California — September 8, 2020 — Several women community leaders, including two Antioch city councilmembers, today condemned false accusations being spread by Mayor Sean Wright against Diana Becton, the county’s first elected woman, and Black district attorney, in his bid for reelection.

In an email sent to supporters last month, Wright claimed Becton created a policy that says it is OK for looters to steal items if they need them. “According to our DA, if the looters ‘need’ an item in a retail shop, for example, it is ok for them to take that item without being charged,” he wrote. Wright included a photo of a Black man looting a store in Chicago in his email.

Wright shared a September 1, 2020 article by The Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website, that supported his accusation against Becton. However, since the article was published, Snopes, an independent fact-checking website, found claims made in the article and shared on other right-wing websites were false.

In June, Becton issued guidelines that encouraged prosecutors to make a distinction between thefts and burglaries that merely happen to take place during a state of emergency and lootings, which are “substantially motivated by” a state of emergency. Contrary to Wright’s claim, the guidelines do not advise prosecutors not to go ahead with a looting charge if a suspect was found to have been motivated by “personal need.”

“Frankly, I’m shocked by the mayor’s comments, especially since he is running on a platform to unite the community,” said Monica Wilson, Antioch’s first Black woman city councilmember. “Fearmongering and spreading lies to drum up votes are not how you unite a community, especially a community like Antioch, where the majority of residents are people of color.”

“For a mayor of a city this size, it is completely irresponsible to make a statement based on unverified information that is later proven false,” said Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joyann Motts. “At a time when we are trying to bring the community together, this is very divisive.”

Wilson also condemned similar remarks recently made by Steve Aiello, president of the Antioch Police Officers Association. In a September 1, 2020 story published by EastCountyToday.net, Aiello accused Becton of being “reckless” by “picking and choosing the types of crimes” her office prosecutes.

“There is very clearly a double standard going on here,” Wilson said. “Our district attorney has done nothing wrong, yet she has gained nationwide attention for her actions simply because she is a Black woman in a position of leadership. Meanwhile, we have had elected men here in Contra Costa County embezzle money, make unwanted sexual advances, and say inappropriate things, and it barely registers a blip on the radar.”

Other local women leaders who were disappointed in Mayor Wright’s comments included Tamisha Walker, an East Bay activist. “When we find ourselves misunderstanding the actions that are being taken at this moment, it would be more productive to find common ground rather than inferring that the leadership of a woman of color is irresponsible and reckless,” Walker said. “Solidarity is what we need during this time, not separatism that could lead to harm in any form. Black women can lead consciously and with full integrity during these very difficult and unprecedented times.”

The disturbing part is intentionally misinterpreting DA Becton’s stance for shock value,” said Carolyn Wysinger, an East Bay activist and Board Chair of San Francisco PRIDE. “The mayor wrote, ‘According to our DA, if the looters “need” an item in a retail shop, for example, it is ok for them to take that item without being charged. I don’t agree with this approach — do you?’ That is classic dog-whistle politics, and THAT’S what we are calling out.”

Courtney Masella-O’Brien, attorney and community activist, said the mayor’s comments were reckless. “At a time when tensions and division in our country and our county are at an all-time high, people need to be responsible and make sure they have their facts accurate and complete, especially when it comes to Contra Costa’s first Black and first woman DA,” she said.

Arianna Grady, an Antioch student activist, said Wright’s comments typified the type of undue scrutiny Black women often encounter. “My mother always taught me that there are two things already against you in this world: ‘You’re Black and that you are a woman.’” Grady said. “Every day, Black women and men suffer from hardships. When we have passion in our voices, we are labeled ‘aggressive.’ When our hair isn’t considered ‘professional,’ we are ‘ghetto.’”

“This certain situation goes to show the continuous hardship we face, which causes us to work ten times harder with only half the expected outcome,” Grady added. “Being a Black woman in politics has shown me how hard we have to work for what we want, as many odds are against us. In this particular situation, it goes to show that we should not be misread and blasted by our peers but understood. This situation should only make us all want to continue to fight for and vote in people who will fact check, understand, and seek to empower all.”

In the 100 years since women fought and won the right to vote, we’ve made great strides,” said Susannah Meyer, another local activist. “Our mothers and grandmothers faced discrimination and challenged gender oppression so that we could vote for women in office and actually have hope that they would be elected to serve. In those 100 years, we have made great strides inequality for women and are living in a world our trailblazing ancestors could only imagine. But we have a long way to go.

“While women leaders and elected officials are still judged on anything other than their integrity, their achievements, and their ability to lead, we still have a long way to go,” Meyer said. “While we calmly accept being treated like our voices don’t matter so we aren’t seen as angry or defensive, we still have a long way to go. Our next generation of women, and the generation after that, will look back and thank us for continuing the fight for gender equality. And we will fight, because we’ve made great strides, but we still have a long way to go.”

References:

Sean Wright’s campaign email:

https://secure.campaigner.com/CSB/Public/archive.aspx?args=NDU5NTMyMDA%3D&acc=NzU5ODM5&fbclid=IwAR2s9TznAap7tm3YOAaHeE14JfULlNEdWdi6FMZKS5_7OJUK-v2VnYMQ4I4

Did a California DA Say Looting Is ‘Okay’ If Suspects ‘Need’ What They Steal?

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/california-da-becton-looting-need/

Antioch Mayor Blasts Contra Costa District Attorney’s Policy on “Looters”

https://eastcountytoday.net/antioch-mayor-blasts-contra-costa-district-attorneys-policy-on-looters/

 

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Contra Costa DA Becton won’t prosecute certain first-time criminals

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Including drug offenders arrested with small amounts or for other crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft, disorderly conduct   

To “divert low-level recreational users out of the criminal justice system and into health care system”

“Reducing strain in the courts” at presiding judge’s request

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced last week, misdemeanor filing considerations for the DA’s Office regarding . Originally initiated as a pilot, the considerations are now formal policy for the Office. The DA’s Office will no longer file charges against most people arrested or cited solely for the possession of small amounts of drugs. The idea is to divert low-level recreational users out of the criminal justice system and into the health care system with the goals of both reducing the strain in the courts and on law enforcement, and also by providing treatment options for the user.

Last year District Attorney Becton and Public Defender Robin Lipetzky were contacted by the presiding judge of the court who stressed the need to reduce the significant backlog of low-level, non-violent misdemeanors in the court system. The backlog of cases was slowing down court operations and proving to be an immense burden on the budgets of various law enforcement agencies and the courts.

Furthermore, there have been significant changes in the laws governing personal drug use that have changed the dynamics of prosecuting low-level drug cases. The aim of these considerations is to stop chronic patterns of arrest and to connect individuals to community based behavioral health services. For a first-time offender we will refer the person to health care services in our community. The policy allows the DA’s Office to focus our efforts on cases that may pose significant public safety concerns such as criminal street gangs, drug dealers, violent criminals, and cases involving firearms.

“When I took Office, I realized we had to change our perspective on filing cases, especially low-level drug cases. From my experience as a judge I saw first-hand how individuals were cycling through our system. Now as the District Attorney, I worked with several law enforcement partners throughout the county to build a plan and gain consensus on how best to proceed with these types of cases. We cannot prosecute ourselves out of this growing trend of low-level offenses being submitted to our Office for a filing decision,” said DA Becton.

Prosecutors will use their discretion on these low-level non-violent offenses to determine if criminal charges are appropriate. Pre-filing diversion is also available for individuals in lieu of a formal criminal complaint.

DA Becton stated, “As I do with all of my Office’s policies, I will periodically review this policy and work with my justice system colleagues to ensure its effectiveness and to modify it when necessary.”

In several situations, the policy may not apply. The exceptions include: the person has been arrested on three previous occasions in the past year for a misdemeanor drug offense, the theft is more than $300 in value, or the subject is on probation.

Misdemeanor Filing Considerations

FIRST-TIME AND STAND-ALONE OFFENSES

For the offenses below, do not file a case predicated upon these statutes if the individual is a first-time offender or this is a stand-alone charge. Consider use of CAPS, Infracting, or a Probation Violation as appropriate.

If an individual becomes a repeat offender, review all cases to include any previously unfiled incidents.

Note: For any of the below offenses, these considerations do not apply if:

  • There are multiple violations (2 or more within a 12-month period)
  • Theft cases: amount of stolen items is $300 or more
  • Defendant is currently on probation
  • Low net weight cases of controlled substances will generally not be filed unless there are three or more misdemeanor drug offenses or another qualifying exception within a 12-month period

The misdemeanor charges these considerations encompass are as follows:

STATUTE                 NAME OF STATUTE

BP 4060                      Possession of Controlled Substance

BP 4140                      Possession of Hypodermic or Syringe

HS 11357                    Possession of Marijuana

HS 11364                    Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

HS 11350                    Possession of Controlled Substance

HS 11377                    Possession of Controlled Substance

HS 11550                    Under the Influence of Controlled Substance

PC 415                        Disturbing the Peace

PC 459.5                     Shoplifting

PC 466                        Possession of Burglar Tools

PC 484                        Petty Theft

PC 602                         Trespass

PC 647(f)                    Disorderly Conduct

PROBATION VIOLATIONS

If an individual is already on Probation, consider electing to file a Probation Violation in Lieu of a new docket. Consult with your supervising DDA as appropriate.

SUSPENDED LICENSES

Infract the below vehicle code offenses. Note: this does not apply to VC 14601.2 and VC 14601.5 offenses.

STATUTE                 NAME OF STATUTE                                              ACTION

VC 12500                    Unlicensed Driver                                                       INFRACT

VC 14601.1                 Non-DUI Suspended or Revoked License                  INFRACT

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