The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

L.A.'s District Attorney Election May Impact Pot Clinics, 3 Strikes

The race for the top spot in the District Attorney's office here in Los Angeles has come down to two people: Jackie Lacey and Alan Jackson. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lacey is a seasoned administrator and former second-in-command behind outgoing DA Steve Cooley. Jackson is a famed and experienced prosecutor who has won numerous high-profile convictions.

Lacey is a Democrat, while Jackson is a Republican. Lacey stands behind the former administration, while Jackson has disagreed with them in the past.

None of that really matters, though, to us regular folk, does it? The best person to represent the people is arguably not determined by party affiliation or past trial victories. The victor should represent the views of the people. In a recent debate, the two candidates described their views on two hot topics in the upcoming election: medical marijuana clinics and "three strikes" laws.

The bad news for patrons and proprietors of L.A.'s pot dispensaries is that both candidates pledged to continue to prosecute owners of the clinics, regardless of the ballot measure to overturn L.A.'s recent ordinance that banned the businesses.

On the other hand, the two candidates differ in their takes on California's "three strikes" law. The current iteration of the law sends offenders to prison for 25 years to life after they commit three felonies. This has resulted in offenders being sent to prison for life for stealing pizza and video tapes. An upcoming statewide ballot measure, Proposition 36, would modify the law and require the third strike to be a violent or serious felony. It would also allow those previously convicted to be resentenced under the modified law.

Jackie Lacey supports Prop 36, as does former DA Steve Cooley. Alan Jackson opposes it.

While prosecutors do not make law, they are the ones charged with enforcing it. Because of limited resources, certain emphasis can be placed on certain crimes under the guise of prosecutorial discretion. While a different DA may not change the laws, whoever wins the election can greatly impact the enforcement of existing laws. That's what makes this upcoming election so important for everyone in Los Angeles County.

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