If you want to get to the real source of political problems in America, follow the money.
For years grassroots organizations have been protesting the Los Angeles District Attorney (D.A.) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for their actions or inaction.
But what if the D.A. and the sheriff's not where the real problem is?
In order to find the source of the problem, you need to identify the source and the required uses for funding these two departments.
Both positions are committed to their funding sources such as Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and other federal and state agencies. If grassroots organizers want to do the real work to break the culture of systemic injustice and injustice, they must first understand the money that funds the work of both departments. The second step is to understand the related metrics that these two elected officials must use to respond in order to receive funding. These metrics provide a real understanding of why the Sheriff and the D.A. work like they do.
Both the sheriff and the D.A. are elected by the electorate, but the resources that support their offices are not based on electoral set metrics. The money and the metrics determine the systemic behavior and decisions of these departments. If the funding metric is based on arrest and conviction, then, as we've seen, this is the business they'll be in. However, if the metric was changed to Arrest and Conviction, then this is the business they would be in. At the end of the day, it's all about figuring out the numbers and keeping the flow of funds going. Once this is understood, there may be a real conversation with these agencies about changing the metrics to better align with the County Board of Supervisors (BOS) efforts including issues such as prisoner relapse, reentry, and other programs.
One such BOS-supported program is the Office of Distraction and Reentry (ODR), which has diverted 4,600 people from prison to long-term care and support shelters with very low relapse rates to date. The cost is $ 70 per person per day compared to $ 600 per person per day for incarceration.
Why should the sheriff or the D.A. In view of this cost differential, want to maintain a draconian policy that leads to the enlargement of the industrial complex in the prison instead of the reforms that BOS is carrying out? I believe the full potential of these reforms will never materialize until we have both the sheriff and the D.A. depoliticize. Primarily because these two independent bodies, even though they are funded by the county, can still act on their own, unlike the department heads who oversee the BOS and the county administrative officer.
The sheriff and the D.A. Unelected department heads would make them more accountable for the various initiatives set by the county board of supervisors and related oversight commissions to promote judicial reform initiatives.
According to the current status of the D.A. and the sheriff is running for their seats just like the councilors or the mayor or the county supervisors. If there is a segregation between the board of directors and the sheriff's department as we are seeing right now, the sheriff is largely not accountable to the board as he / she will always be the sheriff as long as they are elected and so is the DA
The office of the D.A. is in an inherently contradicting position. The symbiotic relationship between an elected official who was sworn in to enforce the law and the elected official who was sentenced to prosecute those who allegedly violated the law prevents the D.A. becomes more autonomous. Because of this, it is almost impossible for these two offices to carry out a systemic culture change that would create a real judicial system. We currently have a legal system, not a judicial system.
It is my sincere hope and desire that we can begin a discussion that will ultimately lead to a statewide electoral drive to depoliticize the D.A. and the sheriff from elected officials to department heads of Los Angeles County.
Robert Sausedo is the President and CEO of Community Build, a southern Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to professional education, youth development, community engagement, and social activism.