Civil rights attorney Pamela Price won her bid to be Alameda County’s first Black district attorney, campaigning on pledges of criminal justice reforms.
She defeated opponent Terry Wiley, who was endorsed by the previous office holder, Nancy O’Malley.
Price has a history of litigating against the state’s prison system and advocating for women who have been the victims of domestic abuse.
She campaigned on reducing the population of Alameda County’s Santa Rita jail and eliminating the use of strikes, or prior convictions, to increase sentences.
She also said she would not charge minors as adults and would end the practice of criminalizing survivors of intimate partner violence, the Nov. 21 digital magazine Bolts reported.
“As someone who has been the survivor of domestic violence and has been an advocate for women all along the whole spectrum … I understand that there are ways that this system has to respond to victims,” Price said. “I have to be able to use the tools and the resources that we have in the system to actually serve the people of the county without criminalizing folks.”
Candidates in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Philadelphia and San Marcos, Texas, have also won elections with similar reform messages, Bolts reported.
“I think voters were offered very distinct visions of what will help prevent crime from happening in the first place, and when harm does happen, what are the appropriate interventions,” said Yoel Haile of the Northern California ACLU’s criminal justice program.
“What this election shows is that people in Alameda County are tired of the tried-and-failed mass incarceration approach of the incumbent, and of the incumbent’s endorsed candidate,” Haile added.
Some local legal reform advocacy organizations view Price’s election as an opportunity to exercise a level of influence on criminal justice policy in the county, citing the unseating in June of Sheriff Gregory Ahern, who oversaw the Santa Rita jail.
Haile said the ACLU supports Price and expects that Price’s unique background will prepare her for the challenges faced by other reform prosecutors, like San Francisco’s recalled former DA Chesa Boudin or Los Angeles’ George Gascón, who fought off a similar recall effort.
“She brings an outsider’s perspective, which is very much needed when you’re trying to reform an office that has entrenched practices of racism, and doing things the old way and not being willing to change,” Haile said.