In the news | DA Pamela Price to shorten prison sentences, favor probation according to leaked memo

Pamela Price after winning election in November 2022

The Berkeley Scanner – an independent news operation focused on crime and public safety founded by former Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso last year — reported on Thursday, Mar. 2, that:

Barring “extraordinary circumstances” and approval by District Attorney Pamela Price herself, the penalty for most crimes in Alameda County will soon be restricted to probation or the lowest-level prison term.

Price announced the news in a memo to her office Wednesday afternoon and it quickly made its way to the media.

“This directive reduces reliance on sentencing enhancements and allegations as an effort to bring balance back to sentencing and reduce recidivism,” Price wrote. “This new directive captures the District Attorney’s Office’s vision of justice for Alameda County.”

Emilie Raguso, March 2, 2023, Leaked memo: DA Pamela Price to shorten prison sentences, lean into probation

Raguso interviewed sources in the DA’s office for the article, who say “they are deeply concerned about the impacts the new policies will have on public safety in Alameda County and that neither victims nor their families have been asked to weigh in.” Read the full story HERE.

In a statement to KRON after the story broke, Price’s said the controversial changes are “being circulated for feedback and may change on what is received” and that “this directive reduces reliance on sentencing enhancements and allegations as an effort to bring balance back to sentencing and reduce recidivism. This is not a top-down directive. Our office is listening and working collectively to serve the people of Alameda County.”

The East Bay Times and The San Francisco Chronicle are among other local news organizations to report on the leaked memo. From the Chronicle:

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón enacted similar policies after taking office, eliciting pushback and a lawsuit from the union that represents deputy district attorneys.  An effort to recall Gascón, a former San Francisco district attorney and police chief, failed to gather enough signatures to land on the ballot. Price’s early moves have similarly drawn criticism from some police officers and prosecutors who see them as too lenient.

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