The ACLU is among a variety of organizations working to elect prosecutors willing to jumpstart a laundry list of criminal justice reforms, including an overhaul of the pretrial bail bond system. It received a $50 million grant from Soros’ Open Society Foundations in 2014. . . .
The group hasn’t determined which local races will be targeted, but it will focus on contests in big cities with large jail populations that feed the state prison system, said Taylor Pendergrass, senior campaign strategist for the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice. More than 1,000 local prosecutors are up for election in November, according to the group. . . .
As the article points out, many on both the right and the left, Republicans and Democrats, are calling for criminal justice reform, but there is a great deal of debate over the proper changes, the economic considerations, and what the practical effects of any legal changes will be. Many law enforcement organizations warn that ill-considered changes could drastically increase crime rates and decrease public safety. The number and murkiness of the considerations in this area make it important that a vibrant public debate is held over law enforcement and criminal justice issues and that the people's elected legislators collectively make the hard decisions about policy matters.
The Color of Change Political Action Committee, which has also received Soros funding, is urging black voters to support Democratic candidate Elizabeth Frizell for Dallas County District Attorney in Texas. A former state district judge, Frizell has called for special prosecutors to investigate shootings by police. She also supports replacing cash bail bonds with a pretrial release system based on factors such as the type of offense, the facts of the case and the defendants’ likelihood to re-offend and return to court. . . .
With great discretion about whether to charge and how severely to punish defendants, district attorneys hold immense power over the way justice is dispensed, advocates for similar reforms agree. . . .
While prosecutors exercise immense discretion as an important facet of our adversarial system, we have seen all too often how politically motivated prosecutors will selectively enforce the law to serve their progressive political goals, not to serve the greater public interest. Unfortunately with the ACLU's track record in selectively supporting free speech rights (anarchists - yes, religious groups - no), we are not optimistic that the candidates supported by the ACLU will be ones who will use their discretion with respect for the rule of law instead of using it to politicize justice on the local level. And when justice is politicized, it is the most vulnerable of our citizens who suffer the greatest consequences.