I believe in the power of community-based programs as our best upstream solution to provide our kids with the support and resources needed to succeed. Youth who drop out of high school are eight times more likely to enter the criminal justice system and be incarcerated than high school graduates.  As the chief strategist behind the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s truancy/dropout prevention and education engagement program we are working to keep kids in school by offering educational supports as a proven and effective crime prevention strategy.

That is also why I am proud to be a co-founding partner of Choose 180 and a key stakeholder in launching Family Intervention and Restorative Services – “FIRS”, an evidence-based program that offers  immediate services to address  conflict and bring healing to families in crisis.

Community and prosecutors can work together to divert non-violent cases out of the justice system and to combat youth violence by strengthening pro-social norms and protective factors in youth and decreasing risk factors.   These efforts are data-driven.  Research shows that connecting youth to structure and opportunities, such as employment, job mentorship and training, educational supports, and behavioral interventions can improve youth well-being and reduce violence.

While I am a strong believer in the importance and power of effective diversion programs, as Prosecutor, it will be my job to oversee any youth who do engage in serious violent crime.  Community safety demands a respite from youth who commit serious violent crime, and those youth are deserving of immediate attention in a secure and therapeutic setting, where  the young person can get immediate access to comprehensive services.

I also believe that prosecutors should not prosecute juveniles as adults except in a minority of cases of exceptional violence and extreme harm.  I was a key force in the creation of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s Juvenile Division, staffed with experienced prosecutors committed to the specific areas of law designed to rehabilitate and improve outcomes for youth, protect public safety, and more effectively serve victims of crime.  Under my leadership, I would ensure that the Juvenile Division (not adult prosecution units) handle all cases involving individuals under the age of 18, even if charged as adults.