The race for Los Angeles County District Attorney is a landmark one for many reasons, not the least among them is the fact that there are three African Americans (including two women) competing for the office. And according to numerous sources, they all have a good chance to make the cut.

Additionally, this is the first time since 1964 that there has been no incumbent in the race, which makes the possibility that one person will win the required 50 percent plus 1 vote much slimmer.

Should that be the case, two of the six people campaigning to win votes on June 5 will meet again in November.

OurWeekly sent each of the candidates a survey to ask them about the issues we see as important to the African American community. Below find their responses listed in the order in which they were returned to us.

More details are available on our website www.ourweekly.com.
Why do you want to be District Attorney?
Jacquelyn “Jackie Lacey” brings more than 26 years of hands-on experience in the criminal justice system to the table. She has worked in the L.A. County D.A.’s office since 1986 and in 2011 was promoted to chief deputy District Attorney responsible for the largest D.A.’s office in the nation, supervising 2,200 employees including 1,000 lawyers.
She has worked her way up through the ranks of the D.A.’s office. Prior to that, she worked two years in the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.
Among her accomplishments are launching an alternative sentencing program for first-time offenders to help them obtain high school diplomas.
Danette E. Meyers
A Los Angeles County native, Meyers began her career in the D.A.’s office as a senior law clerk and has worked her way into a leadership role as a deputy-in-charge of the Bellflower office. During that time, she was selected to join the Career Criminal Unit in the L.A. office and also became a member of the Special Trials Division of the Van Nuys branch office.
In 1998, Meyers became the first African American female elected to serve as president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
She currently is also on the L.A. Bar Association’s Judicial Appointments Committee and Appellate Courts Review Committee.
I am running for District Attorney of Los Angeles County to institute much-needed reforms to the criminal justice system and in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. As the next District Attorney, I would implement my concept of Smart Justice. Smart Justice embodies the following principles:
a) Equal access to justice for all citizens.
b) Fairness in the application of the law.
c) Uniformity in the application of the law.
d) Vigorous prosecution of crimes against women and children.
e) Reform of the Juvenile Justice System by reducing the number of juveniles prosecuted as adults.
f) Partnership with school administrators, parents and members of the criminal justice system to increase the number of high school and college graduates, thereby decreasing the rate of criminal activity.
g) Reform of the death penalty statute and the way in which the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes death penalty cases.
h) Vigorous investigation and prosecution of those who pollute our communities with toxic and hazardous waste.
i) Saving taxpayer dollars by using rehabilitation as a means of punishing non-violent offenders.
j) Allocating resources to prosecuting serious and violent crimes while demanding longer prison terms for individuals who hurt and kill members of our community.
k) Increasing diversity within the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Alan Jackson is a 17-year career prosecutor in the Los Angeles County D.A.’s office and specializes in prosecuting the most high-profile, violent and complex crimes. He leads the Major Crimes Division as assistant head deputy, and began his career with the county in the Hard Core Gang unit in Compton.
In 2010, he was named Prosecutor of the Year by the L.A. County Bar Association, and in 2009 was named among the top 100 lawyers in the state by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily journals.
I am proud to be the candidate of law enforcement, standing with over 65,000 police and fire officials represented by over 20 state and local public safety associations to become your next District Attorney. As the next D.A. of Los Angeles County, I will ensure that gang members and violent offenders are aggressively prosecuted; I will hold public officials to the highest standards of professional accountability, public integrity and honesty; and I will lead by example, insuring that deputies throughout the county are committed to working closely with law enforcement to create a safer and brighter future for us all.
I have dedicated my life and my career to public safety and the swift and certain carriage of justice. The District Attorney of Los Angeles County will head the largest local prosecutorial agency in the United States. The post demands a leader who is a true prosecutor, one who is battle-tested at the highest levels and who will bring to the office unparalleled leadership ability and a proven track record of guiding the office through defining moments.
As a lifetime public servant, my experience as a public prosecutor, educator, supervisor and manager uniquely qualifies me to lead the District Attorney’s office.

Bobby Grace:
A native of San Bernardino, Grace graduated from UCLA, and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. In 1988, he joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office where he has devoted his entire career. Currently, Bobby is assigned to the Major Crimes Division. Throughout his life, Bobby has maintained numerous leadership positions while serving the community. Currently, he is the vice president of education and training for Black Prosecutors of Los Angeles. In addition, Grace is a coach for Marshall High School’s Constitutional Rights Foundation.
I’m running for District Attorney because this election will affect the criminal justice system in Los Angeles County for the next generation of county residents.
I am running to implement a policy of Smart Justice. We must move toward smart but tough justice in L.A. County that fights public corruption and fraud. I also plan to fight child and elder abuse.
I will embrace alternative sentencing that will reduce the recycling of low-level offenders through our prison system, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. I will focus on education by reducing truancy and engaging first-time juvenile offenders. In short, I will be the District Attorney with the plan to reduce costs and increase safety for all 10 million of our residents.

Carmen Trutanich. Currently the city attorney for Los Angeles, who was first elected 2009. Trutanich grew up in the Los Angeles community of San Pedro. He attended the University of Southern California where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting and business management.
Trutanich also earned a MBA from the USC.
I want to be Los Angeles County District Attorney because I want to take the office in a new direction–one that’s focused on crime prevention, education, alternative sentencing, and after-school programs that keep kids from joining gangs. I plan on using innovative strategies to modernize the office to make it more efficient and successful in combating crime, and in keeping the residents of our county safe.
I didn’t plan to run for District Attorney, but I felt that I had a duty to keep Los Angeles safe, and because I was urged by L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, along with thousands of law enforcement officers, I decided that by running for D.A., I could best keep L.A. safe.

What is your philosophy when it comes to first-time juvenile offers?
Grace: My philosophy when it comes to first time juvenile offenders can be summed up in one word; Diversion. The more children that we keep out of the juvenile system, the better it will be for our schools, economy and crime prevention. We can do this by sending more juvenile first time offenders to Teen Court in LAUSD schools and by creating similar programs in other large districts throughout the county. I would also partner with non-profit organizations, colleges and law enforcement to send first time offenders to at risk programs already being operated by those organizations.

Jackson: All decisions regarding juvenile offenders should be made on an individual, case-specific basis with an eye toward saving children from a life of crime. The decision of how to charge should be made following the guiding principles of both statutory and case law.

Meyers: I support education, rehabilitation and work-study programs that divert young people charged with first time non-violent crimes out of the criminal justice system.

Trutanich: As District Attorney, my goal and commitment is to rehabilitate as many juvenile offenders as possible. To quote Father Boyle, “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” I believe that we need to give juvenile offenders meaningful opportunities to become successful members of their communities, and I am a firm believer in second chances. Education and rehabilitation must be our tools to break the cycle of crime.

How do/would you handle repeat non-violent juvenile offenders?
Grace: I would make every effort to keep repeat non-violent juvenile offenders out of juvenile hall and camps I would partner with colleges and non-profit groups across the county to address the problems facing the juvenile from a holistic family perspective.

Meyers: The juvenile justice system is badly in need of reform. As District Attorney, I would implement a program where the District Attorney would work in partnership with school administrators, parents and members of the criminal justice system to actively engage students in the learning process and thereby increasing the number of high school and college graduates. I would mandate that all repeat offenders complete anger management classes and obtain a high school degree. Finally, I would work with the probation department to require monthly reporting to a probation officer after release from a juvenile detention facility.

Jackson: Repeat juvenile offenders are stepping dangerously toward adopting criminal lifestyles, and we must do everything in our power to stop this trend before it starts. Once criminal activity becomes a pattern, rehabilitation may take many forms, depending on the disposition of the offender. In their efforts to narrowly tailor an effective approach, prosecutors should have all options at their disposal aimed toward winning young people back to pursuing a life worthy of their potential.
Although case law affirms the office’s discretionary authority to file cases against juvenile offenders directly in adult court, I believe the use of the traditional fitness hearing should be the method primarily relied upon, absent extraordinary circumstances, with an eye toward rehabilitation of the minor. The direct filing of juvenile cases in adult court is rare and properly involves only the most serious offenses. As District Attorney, I would ensure that all direct filing decisions be made on a case-by-case basis and only after a careful and thorough review of the facts.

Trutanich: I want to stop crime before it starts, and I will fight for a juvenile justice system that focuses on helping juvenile offenders become productive members of society.

Do you support the “Three Strikes” law? Why? Why not?
Grace: Yes, the current “three strikes” law seeks a 25-year-to-life sentence only when the third felony offense is also a violent felony, or if the prosecutor handling the case makes the argument that the defendant deserves that sentence. This policy has saved the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars. More importantly, it was the ethical and fair thing to do. As the elected District Attorney, I would work to re-sentence felons who were given 25-year-to-life sentences where the third felony conviction isn’t a violent felony. I would also work to make the Los Angeles D.A. policy the law throughout the state of California. Currently, different counties have different policies, and we must ensure that there is consistent justice across the state of California.

Meyers: I do not support the present “Three Strikes Law,” because it provides for a sentence of 25 years to Life to be imposed for someone convicted of a non-violent offense. I support the initiative that would require the charged offense to be a violent or serious felony. Moreover, I support legislation that would allow a court to review and, when appropriate, reduce all 25-to-life sentences of inmates who were convicted of non-violent offenses and presently serving time in the California Department of Corrections.

Jackson: I will maintain the office’s current Three Strikes policy. Under this policy, the District Attorney’s Office will preemptively seek a third strike sentence of 25 years to life only when at least one of the charged offenses is a serious or violent felony (or when certain high-level drug sales and/or manufacture enhancements are alleged). It is vital to the integrity of this office that the power of the Three Strikes law be used judiciously, with an eye toward avoiding abuse in the form of disproportionately harsh sentences for relatively minor offenses. The Three Strikes policy described above addresses these concerns and has been proven effective for the past decade.

Trutanich: In light of increases in the cost of prisoner medical care, prisoner realignment, and overcrowding of our prisons, I believe that we need to fundamentally reform the three strikes law. Currently, an individual can be given 25 years to life for a third felony, and I believe that this ignores the nuances of individual cases. If I am elected D.A., I will ensure that only truly serious felonies should count as a third strike, thus allowing reformed lawbreakers to turn their lives around.