Alan Jackson has made a real name for himself as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, and now he’s looking to capitalize on that success. He is running for District Attorney against Jackie Lacey, who serves as the chief deputy to current District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Lacey is portraying herself as the candidate with the experience to lead, but it is hard to argue with Jackson’s seventeen years spent as a prosecutor, not to mention his many accomplishments and accolades. He’s twice been named Prosecutor of the Year, and he’s represented winning sides in several high profile cases in the community. In fact, he became the first attorney in 40 years to successfully convict a celebrity of murder in L.A. when he tried the Phil Spector case.
Jackson came from humble beginnings in Texas and was raised by his single mother. He later served as a mechanic in the Air Force before graduating from the University of Texas, Austin. After that he went to Law School at Pepperdine University, and he’s been in Southern California ever since.
How is Jackson’s campaign faring in the polls? Is he making a positive impression with voters? What key issues separate him from his opponent? What would a Jackson victory mean for Los Angeles?
Highlights from the interview:
On what to overcome with an overwhelming Democratic state, despite election's nonpartisan nature:
"This is an office for public safety; it's not an office for a politician."
"When [the voters are] asked who they want to sit in the top spot in the district attorney's office, I think they overwhelmingly respond that they want a prosecutor."
"I've got support of both, a bipartisan coalition of support surrounding my campaign, including some elected officials that are Republican, some that are Democrats."
On why prosecutorial background matters versus administrative background:
"At the end of the day, we try cases. That's what the district attorney is all about ... Our work is not done in a conference room, our work is done in a court room. I have the prosecutorial skills to bring that leadership to the top of the office, to lead 1000 prosecutors."
"The real leadership, the real vision comes from a modern view of what happens inside the courtroom ... I've been tethered to the courtroom for 18 years."
On how much he'll be involved with the cases:
"I think I'd be very involved. I believe that leadership from the top means that you have to take an active interest in exactly what your DAs are doing. Obviously I'm not going into the court and trying the cases ... What we do is set tones and policies that we believe reflect the leadership of the office and the administration that's running it."
"When Steve Cooley ran in 2000, he had not spent one day in executive management. Not one day. He ran as a prosecutor. You see the job that he's done in the last 12 years and I think to a person, folks would say that he's guided this office very, very well. I bring the same skill set to the office."
On what he would change if he were elected:
"My vision comes down to basically being progressive in my view of moving forward, modernizing the district's office."
"I think we have to get control over public corruption ... When you can't trust the people who are put in the position to actually protect their constituents – there has to be a zero tolerance for that."
"I think we have to control violent crime. I had breakfast not long ago with [LAPD Chief] Charlie Beck. Charlie Beck could not have agreed more when I said, 'Chief, it seems to me that we can get control of violent crime if we control gang crime in the Los Angeles area.'"
"I want to modernize the DA's office, basically pulling the DA's office into the 21st century: high-tech crime investigation, cyber crime investigation ranging from bank fraud all the way to sexual predators using the internet. Things of that nature are proliferating in the criminal justice system. The fastest growing crime in Los Angeles ... is ID theft."
"We have to stop crime before it starts ... We're not going to prosecute or handcuff our way out of the crime problem in Los Angeles. We have to address the kids; those who can be saved should be saved."
On how the DA office approaches prevention:
"We do carry the stick; our main mission is, our commission as the District Attorney office is to punish criminals, but when they can be put on probation, when they can be supervised in a more robust fashion by the courts, with our assent, they should be. When there is a possibility to rehabilitate a juvenile, to me, that's where the rubber meets the road. We will have saved someone from getting into the adult criminal life."
"We need to continue training on gang crimes and gang enhancements. When I was in Compton, I worked in the hardcore gang division and I literally wrote the manual on how to prosecute a modern gang crime."
On what role the DA's office should play in realignment:
"I think that is probably the key issue in this election, and is going to be the key issue for the next administration: What are we going to do about realignment, what are we going to do about AB 109 and prisoner release."
"Let me disabuse the idea that the only people being affected by realignment are low level offenders. Some of the offenses that are considered low level include: possession of weapons, possession of explosives, major financial crimes ranging into literally the billions of dollars ... welfare fraud cases that can range into the tens of millions, hundreds of millions in loss to the state and to the taxpayers, counterfeiting, elder abuse, health care fraud. These are all things that are considered releasable and 'low level.'"
"We need to embrace the idea of alternative sentencing with intense supervision. It's the supervision that allows us the ability to rehabilitate those who can ... Hopefully we'll get the funding to do that, but that's what has to be done. The money has got to come from somewhere, and we as a community have to get sort of a steel spine and say we're going to pay for this."
"We also can work ... to build a central rehabilitation and support services infrastructure. That Larry, in my opinion, should have been done beforehand. Before AB 109 was passed ... We simply don't have a singular facility to send parolees when they're getting out of state prison or probationers when they're getting released early.
"We have to deeply categorize the folks that are going to be released early. We're out of room at the inn; there's no more room at the local custody facilities to put more inmates in."
On his stance against Proposition 36:
"It paints with far too broad a brushstroke ... Under the new rules, there are certain crimes that would be permanently and forever more removed from the three strikes framework, and they are important crimes, crimes like attempted murder."
"Even if you had several attempted murders going back years, and aggravated assault, and assault on a police officer with a firearm, for instance, those would be accepted out of the framework of being allowed in any circumstance to seek a third strike on a current felon that's not serious or not violent."
"I started off with a simple question: 'Does this law help or hinder my ability to keep the public safe?' This law, as it's written, hinders my ability to keep the public safe."
Alan Jackson, candidate for Los Angeles County District Attorney and currently serving as Assistant Head Deputy for the D.A.’s office