Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price has barely been in her office one-hundred days yet she has received push back from those opposing her agenda to balance the sentencing on those who commit crimes.
Price and her supporters have had to defend her position as the county’s lead prosecutor numerous times, working to explain how her decisions are to the benefit of communities most affected by over-sentencing, which has been standard practice for decades.
“It will take wisdom, patience, grace, courage, compassion, and sense of purpose with a real commitment to serve the people of Alameda County,” Price said in an Oakland Post article. “I was put in this season for a reason, and I’ve been preparing all my life for this.”
Price won the position from Nancy O’Malley in a 2023 election after the city suffered from the draconian laws O’Malley’s office imposed on the residents of Alameda County. The county’s jail has been over-crowded and strained, forcing new actions to be taken to relieve them.
Gary Townsend has lived in Oakland most of his life and was sentenced to a long prison term for a crime he committed when O’Malley was in office. Swamped with many enhancements, Townsend is one of the many people who have been harshly sentenced by the courts and yet still sits in prison after years of rehabilitating his life.
“Some people look at it like she [Price] is letting criminals out of prison and they will come out here and make our communities worse,” Townsend said. However, he is adamant that that is not the case. “Many people have changed and will bring peace back to our communities.”
One piece of advice that Townsend and other currently incarcerated people extended to Price is for her to focus on resentencing people who have put in the work on themselves by committing to rehabilitation during their prison terms and who are ready to make a positive difference for their communities.
Realizing the uphill battle ahead of her, Price had to place some of the former DA’s staff on leave after they became disgruntled and started criticizing her office, the article said.
“The culture of that office was toxic and addressing their trauma was my first priority,” Price said, noting that she was proud that 90% of O’Malley’s staff stayed on with her.
Price faced an array of disorganization in her new office — from financial mismanagement to overworked and stressed out employees under O’Malley’s watch, the article noted.
“The DA’s office was understaffed across the entire spectrum despite O’Malley having the funds: she didn’t manage this organization at all,” said Price.
“I think that incarcerated people who have continued to show growth, remorse, empathy and change deserve a second chance at freedom to have an opportunity to be a productive, positive, influential role model that’s returning back to society to be of service to their communities,” Townsend said.
Price spoke to victims’ advocates for the baby Jasper Wu, who was killed in a freeway shooting in Alameda County, at a rally on the steps of the courthouse by Lake Merritt.
“Justice for Jasper, justice for Jasper. Justice for all those victims of violent crimes,” Price said on a local news station.
Some of those in attendance were critical of the new DA while others were supportive.
“I stand by our minister of justice, Pamela Price,” said Norman Birkenstock, a self-described senior leader in the Asian American and Philippine-American community. “We stand strong, resolute, unwavering, for social justice and public safety for all Asian Americans, all Hispanic Americans [and] all White Americans.”