The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has created a new unit dedicated to seeking alternatives to putting non-violent criminals behind bars.
The unit will seek treatment, rehabilitation and accountability for non-violent defendants suffering from mental illness and drug addiction who end up cycling in and out of the criminal justice system, says a press release from DA Jeff Rosen’s office. Known as Custody Alternatives and Mental Health Programs (CAMP), the new unit is expected to handle thousands of cases a year.
Brandon Cabrera, a veteran prosecutor with experience in many of the office’s units, will supervise the new unit
“Non-violent crimes might not grab headlines, but they erode our community and damage lives,” Rosen said. “We’ve assembled a new team to come up with creative solutions for people who need help rather than jail.”
CAMP will have 10 prosecutors handling such issues as mentally ill and homeless defendants, prisoners who have earned second chances and people who need their old, low-level criminal records cleared to help them get housing and jobs.
The unit was created out of a rethinking of the now obsolete Narcotics Unit, says the press release. That unit was split into CAMP and the Major Crime and Drug Trafficking Unit that handles cartel and violent drug cases
My first reaction to this article was: Great, looks like they (plural pronoun) are going to actually begin to address the true causes of our “homeless crisis.” You know, get people committed (involuntarily if necessary) to mental and rehab facilities where they can be properly treated and kept off the streets and out of the criminal justice system. However, after a second reading of the article, I am not so sure.
The DA’s job is to prosecute crimes. Within limits (obviously exceed by the LA and SF DAs), DAs have some prosecutorial discretion, which is a much needed function of the office.
Here is what gives rise to my concerns:
“CAMP will have 10 prosecutors handling such issues as mentally ill and homeless defendants, prisoners who have earned second chances and people who need their old, low-level criminal records cleared to help them get housing and jobs.”
Break down that paragraph. Here what it might actually mean:
“prisoners who have earned second chances” means letting people out of jail who may likely reoffend.
“people who need their old, low-level criminal records cleared to help them get housing and jobs” actually means assisting convicted criminals in expunging their previous convictions — shielding them from the consequences of their criminal behavior. And, don’t forget that many “low-level” convictions were actually more serious crimes, which were plead down to “low-level” and “non-violent” crimes.
Or, in the alternative, the entire “creation of a new unit” might merely be campaign puffery to shore up his Leftist base.
In any event, I will be voting for Mr. Rosen because his only real opposition is a complete Leftist, former public defender, anti-police, lunatic. And, my hope is that at least some efforts of this new unit will be used to reduce the negative impacts of homeless and criminality on society (read law-abiding, tax-paying citizens).