By Anika Khubchandani
PHOENIX – Julie Gunnigle is the Democratic nominee for Maricopa County Attorney in the state of Arizona because she says she believes the people in her county “deserve a criminal justice system that is smart, fair, and tough.”
The current county attorney, Allister Adel, has not only failed to utilize her influential position to address racial disparities in criminal sentencing, but also neglects to showcase the diversity of Arizona residents in her executive team, according to the challenger.
“Prosecutors wield substantial influence, including life and death implications. It is essential that the Maricopa County Attorney’s office reflects the community it serves. If we will accomplish the highest notions of justice, it will be because we bring all voices and perspectives into the decision room, not just one race, one voice,” said Gunnigle.
These failures were just “a continuance of the last four decades of exclusion and mismanagement of this Maricopa County Attorney’s Office,” declares Gunnigle. Since this county is the third-largest prosecutor’s office in the nation, there needs to be a shift in leadership, she adds.
Gunnigle maintains that prosecutors possess immense power and authority, which in turn have direct implications on the communities they are elected to serve.
In order to achieve justice, Gunnigle plans to strive for “an ideal criminal justice system,” in which “race operates neutrally in prosecution outcomes.” By promoting prosecutorial diversity, more and more voices and perspectives that will benefit Arizona residents will be able to have an impact in the decision room, she said.
Considering that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has always had “difficulty in attracting and retaining attorneys of color,” Gunnigle charges, she has announced a seven point plan which will attempt to address the issue of diversity in the office.
By implementing her reforms first within the office, she then intends to “proactively reach out to directly impacted communities in order to repair the relationship between the County Attorney’s Office and communities of color eroded by four decades of open hostility.”
Gunnigle notes she is extremely proud of her campaign and is committed to fighting for “transparent and forceful” criminal justice reform and “deliver actual reform to the Attorneys Office from day one” because Arizonans deserve as much.
Gunnigle’s Seven-Point Diversity Plan:
- Dismantle the culture of exclusivity that has persisted for over forty years.
- Create racially diverse executive and leadership teams, establishing diverse, experienced perspectives to tackle our County’s most challenging issues and solve them.
- Establish early pipeline outreach.
- Engage in conscious professional recruitment in our community and across the nation to attract the best and brightest talent.
- Engage in professional retention efforts with attorneys and support staff.
- Proactively reach out to directly impacted communities in order to repair the relationship between the County Attorney’s Office and communities of color eroded by four decades of open hostility.
- Engage office integrity efforts, to address and resolve documented racist policies.
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