Guest Commentary: Justice with Equity

by Dillan Horton

When I started voting in college, I would wait until Election Day and turn in my mail ballot at my local polling place. After working a number of campaigns over the past 11 years I’ve become a little more anxious about delays, so I now turn it in earlier. However, I know there are many people who wait and vote on Election Day. So this is for all of those folks who haven’t voted yet.

I also am coming from a certain degree of informed bias. I have served as Cynthia Rodriguez’s Campaign Chair since she announced her candidacy in the Spring of 2021. I was with Cynthia at the very beginning when she held a virtual kick-off over Zoom, and I’ve been there every step of the way as countless Yolo County residents have shared with Cynthia how desperate they are for a change in leadership at the District Attorney’s Office. Many people become invested in Cynthia’s candidacy by hearing about the demographic disparities present in Yolo County’s criminal justice system.

As a Black person in Yolo County I know anecdotally that proportionately our population is much smaller than other ethnicities, somewhere around 3% of the population. Due largely to discretionary decisions made at the DA’s office, the Black population that Yolo County incarcerates is about a quarter of the jailed population. The source of this problem is different depending on when/where you ask the DA’s office. Between February of 2020 and January of 2022 I chaired the Davis Police Accountability Commission(PAC). In a PAC meeting last year, Chief Deputy DA Jonathan Raven pointed the finger at our police departments, saying that they get charging recommendations from the police departments and essentially there’s nothing they can do about racial disparities at that point.

In a debate with Cynthia the current DA gave a different explanation, saying that these racial disparities are a national “social phenomenon” that they can’t address from Yolo County. The current DA earlier has pledged to address this by utilizing “blind charging,” where prosecutors don’t get to see information about a suspect’s ethnicity. Cynthia has pointed out that the only way this will work is if the problem is with racial bias within the DA’s own prosecutors. The bottom line is that the DA’s office is everywhere and nowhere on racial equity. To improve racial equity outcomes Cynthia will empower an actually independent Conviction Integrity Unit to review past convictions, promote Diversion for many 1st time/petty offenses, and Cynthia will make bail decisions based on real risk, not the accused’s ability to pay.

Effective law enforcement requires ethical officers and prosecutors, but unfortunately this DA’s office has always struggled to meet the high ethical standards needed for a District Attorney. From his very first campaign, someone supporting his campaign was found searching the office of his opponent, a fellow prosecutor at the DA’s office. If you have watched the debates you may remember the current DA bragging about being the President of the conservative California District Attorney’s Association—the part that he doesn’t brag about is losing nearly $3 million in taxpayer funds designated for environmental enforcement.

Yolo County voters along with the majority of California voters voted for Prop. 47 & Prop. 57 to reform state crime laws. The current DA insists that we made a mistake in those elections, and that he’ll help us by using our taxpayer dollars stop their implementation. Over and over again the DA and his prosecutors have been caught in prosecutorial misconduct in their cases, particularly hiding evidence. Whether it’s letting someone off with a slap on the wrist or prosecuting the wrong person, at the end of the day the true perpetrator goes free, and continues to endanger the community. Cynthia will never hide how she spends taxpayer dollars, and will publicize real-time crime data on how your prosecutors are keeping you safe.

“He doesn’t treat people fairly”—this was the comment of an attendee of Cynthia’s last campaign event, a predominantly South-Asian meet & greet in West Sacramento. We can have justice with equity, and Cynthia Rodriguez will deliver that as Yolo County District Attorney.

#Cynthia4YoloDA #DefeatRightWingReisig #JusticeWithEquity

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for