The top prosecutor for a Bay Area county announced Wednesday he will no longer seek the death penalty and will move to end cash bail and stop pursuing less serious crimes as part of a reform plan prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Jeff Rosen, district attorney of Santa Clara County, said he previously believed in the value of the death penalty but could no longer trust society to ensure a fair legal process for all people.
“With every exoneration, with every story of of racial injustice, it becomes clearer to me that this is not the world we live in,” he said about fairness.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on the death penalty last year.
Rosen also announced the creation of a new unit to ferret out serious police misconduct and a program to funnel seized money and goods back to community organizations.
He said his office will now review an estimated 30,000 cases a year with an eye toward race and equity considerations, and he’ll require prosecutors to visit jails and prisons, speak with inmates and do ride-alongs with community organizers and police.
Rosen said his office will automatically expunge eligible convictions without making former defendants hire an attorney to do so.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association said Rosen’s “reckless and politically motivated criminal justice proposals” are irresponsible, dangerous and an insult to the police force.