New DA, new way

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully is retiring. Three candidates—Anne Marie Schubert, Maggy Krell, Todd Leras—hope to be the first new district attorney in two decades.

A problem is that Sacramento sends people to prison when they’d be better served with rehabilitative treatment. But realignment, a statewide policy enacted in 2011, makes a solution to this problem urgent. The policy mandates that certain low-risk prisoners, who otherwise would be sent to state prison, be “realigned” to either county jails or local supervision. In other words, the prison system is criminally overcrowded, so the state kicked the can to local governments to handle.

Scully criticizes realignment. That’s fair. But the district attorney’s office also has not adjusted to this new reality. She continues to operate in favor of imprisonment over rehabilitation.

Sacramento’s next district attorney needs to be a strong advocate for the latter.

Is Schubert, current deputy district attorney and Scully’s chosen successor, this person?

She has a Wikipedia-like knowledge of the inner workings of the district attorney’s office, some 24 years of department experience. That’s invaluable. Her thorough answers to SN&R’s endorsement questionnaire impressed.

We worry, however, that Schubert will be an extension of Scully. We’d hoped to see more action in the district attorney’s office to believe otherwise, and more talk of change on the campaign trail, for her to earn our endorsement.

Meanwhile, Krell and Leras are running as reform candidates. Krell calls realignment a “wake-up call” and a chance to invest in rehab, prevention and treatment. Leras says there’s a “culture of fear” in the district attorney’s office, where lower prosecutors don’t speak out.

Krell is currently a deputy attorney general and has hung her campaign on the issue of human trafficking. We view that as a low priority, but we support her as a leading voice to implement change in how the region deals with low-level offenders. She believes in preventative treatment and rehabilitation. The Democratic establishment and notable local reformers also believe in her.

Leras entered the DA race late but has received notable endorsements, such as that from former California Supreme Court Associate Justice Cruz Reynoso. Like Schubert, his SN&R interview responses were detailed and compelling, and his diverse experience is an asset.

The next district attorney needs to be a leader and an ambassador for change. Someone who can transform how Sacramentans view criminal-justice priorities.

We appreciate Schubert’s invaluable expertise, but ultimately endorse both Krell and Leras because of their ideas for reform.