SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP/KRON) — The top prosecutor for a San Francisco Bay Area county announced Wednesday he will no longer seek the death penalty and will move to end cash bail and stop pursuing less serious crimes.
Jeff Rosen, district attorney of Santa Clara County, told KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun the change was inspired by the current social justice movement here in the U.S.
“Therefore I am announcing today that I will no longer seek the death penalty,
He said he previously believed in the value of the death penalty but could no longer trust society to ensure a fair legal process for all people.
“The criminal justice system reflects our society. The wonderful things in our society and the bad things in our society and so I could no longer assure myself of the fundamental fairness of the legal process when it comes to the death penalty,” he said. “I have read too many stories of exoneration and wrongful convictions and I recognize that it’s time.”
However, the president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, Paul Kelly, says the death penalty is not something you go changing your mind over.
“In 2012 you had an infant that was sexually assaulted, and killed during the sexual assault. That’s heinous! That person doesn’t deserve to live for the rest of his life,” Kelly said. “That person deserves the death penalty.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on the death penalty last year.
Rosen also announced the creation of a new unit to ferret out serious police misconduct and a program to funnel seized money and goods back to community organizations.
He said his office will now review an estimated 30,000 cases a year with an eye toward race and equity considerations, and he’ll require prosecutors to visit jails and prisons, speak with inmates and do ride-alongs with community organizers and police.
“I certainly follow very closely what happens in our community and in our country and I think over the last several months I heard the cry for addressing race and equity in our criminal justice system,” he said.
Rosen said his office will automatically expunge eligible convictions without making former defendants hire an attorney to do so.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association said Rosen’s “reckless and politically motivated criminal justice proposals” are irresponsible, dangerous and an insult to the police force.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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