In 2003, the year Paul Gallegos began his first term as District Attorney, the Department of Justice reported 394 violent crimes in Humboldt County. If that seems like a lot, fast-forward to 2009 when that number had risen to 541—an increase of 37 percent. During that same period, the overall rate for violent crime in the state declined by almost 20 percent.
But I want to talk about something more than numbers. I want to tell you what this looks like on the ground.
Here’s an example. In July, a man named Michael Coen was arrested for attempted murder. This was not his first brush with the law. He’d been sent to prison for eight years for an assault that left a man in a coma. This was before Gallegos was elected.
Coen was paroled in 2007, but in March 2008 was picked up for participating in a gang. No charges were filed, and instead the new offense was treated as a parole violation.
In July 2008, he was arrested for his involvement in another beating that resulted in serious injury. Again, no new charges were filed by Gallegos, and again the offense was treated as a simple parole violation. Coen was out in five months.
December 2008 found Coen arrested yet again—this time for driving under the influence and running from the police. Gallegos charged the DUI but then pled it down to a less serious offense. Once again, it was treated as a parole violation.
Back out on the streets in May 2009, Coen was immediately rearrested for participating in a gang. Again, no charges. Another parole violation; another brief stint in jail.
Coen was released again in August 2009. The following month, he assaulted two men, breaking the jaw of one man who happened to be a serviceman home on leave from Iraq.
Even though Coen was already on parole for felony assault, even though he had five prior parole violations, Gallegos plea bargained this new case and agreed to Coen’s release in November 2009.
Three months later, Coen was arrested again. The charges this time—robbery, carjacking, illegally possessing a weapon, and participating in a gang. The case was referred to the DA, but for some unexplained reason, it was never charged. At all. Even though the investigating officer reported Coen admitted his involvement. He remained out on the street until he was picked up a few months ago for allegedly attempting to kill a man.
This is one example. There are many more. This year alone there have been 29 felons on parole found to be in possession of firearms. The DA charged only six of those. One parolee, picked up three times for being in possession of a firearm before he was charged. That was when he was found with a loaded Glock in his waistband after being stopped by the CHP.
This is where we are. This is what eight years of Paul Gallegos have gotten us.
If elected, as your next District Attorney I will close the revolving door of plea deals that returns violent criminals to our streets to offend again and again.
I will evaluate cases personally to make sure they are properly charged. I will prioritize cases and see that deputy prosecutors have the resources and leadership they need to succeed.
I will repair the damage done to the Victim Witness Program, and re-establish special victims programs, such as those that previously supported victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child and elder abuse.
I will re-establish a true environmental crimes unit that addresses real issues and doesn’t waste our time or your money on vanity cases and political grandstanding.
I will be accessible. People trying to contact the DA’s Office will no longer get a telephone tree, a full voice-mailbox and no return call. That has gone on too long and is flatly unacceptable.
On the strength of my experience and reputation, I have earned the endorsement of law enforcement throughout Humboldt County: Sheriff’s Deputies, Arcata Police, Eureka Police, Fortuna Police and our Correctional Officers. I have the support of the current Sheriffs of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties. They know I’ll do the job to keep our community safe, They know that when they arrest people and we can prove that they're guilty, I won't let them go.
Work with me to rebuild our District Attorney's Office. Vote Allison Jackson for District Attorney. A New Day, A New DA. Thank you.
Allison Jackson, a former prosecutor, is a partner in the Harland Law Firm. For information about her campaign, visit AJforDA.com.