What is a da

District attorneys are some of the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. As government prosecutors, they make key decisions in criminal cases about who gets charged, what they get charged with, and the ultimate punishments they face. DAs are elected officials. They answer to you.

Why you should care

District attorneys make decisions that impact all of us. Their views on criminal justice policy set the tone for how our communities respond to societal issues and have great influence on the police and Legislature.

Transparency & Accountability

As elected officials, DAs are accountable to us. They have an obligation to increase transparency by meeting with community members and publicly sharing information about how their office operates.

Public Health

DAs help decide whether people with substance use disorders and other mental illness go to jail, or get access to more effective solutions like community-based treatment.

Equal Treatment

DAs have the power to insist that people are treated fairly in everything from charging, to trial, to sentencing - regardless of race, disability, gender, sexual orientation or other factors.

Youth

Children don’t belong in prison, and DAs can support community-based alternatives that help young people thrive, keep communities and families involved, and cost taxpayers less.

Mass Incarceration

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. DAs can fix that with fair charging and sentencing, and by championing alternatives to prison like diversion and treatment programs.

Poverty

A person’s income shouldn’t determine their fate in the justice system. DAs make decisions about whether people will be stuck in jail because they can’t afford bail or they can’t pay their fines.
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MEET THE CANDIDATES IN MAINE

There are eight prosecutorial districts in Maine, each with an elected district attorney. All eight DAs are up for election in 2018. Find out how your candidates compare on key criminal justice issues.

All DA candidates in the state were sent a questionnaire and invited to respond.

Select County

MEET THE CANDIDATES IN MAINE

for District attorney in .
Select two candidates to compare their views on key criminal justice policy

Randall J. Bates

Republican

S. Thomas Carey

Republican

Todd Collins

Democrat - DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Matthew Foster

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Jon C. Gale

Democrat

Natasha C. Irving

Democrat

N. Seth Levy

Democrat

Jonathan Liberman

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Marianne Lynch

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Maeghan Maloney

Democrat DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Andrew Robinson

Democrat DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Jonathan Sahrbeck

Unaffiliated

Kathryn Slattery

Democrat DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Kevin Sullivan

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Frayla Tarpinian

Democrat

Alexander Willette

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY
Candidate views on
  • The Power of the District Attorneys Office
    ACLU Position
    District Attorneys are one of the most powerful positions in the Maine criminal justice system. Ninety-one percent of Americans across all political parties say that the criminal justice system has problems that need to be fixed. District Attorneys should use the substantial power of their office to support criminal justice reform, correct overly harsh and punitive policies, and make the system fairer and more equal for all people.
  • Transparency and Accountability
    ACLU Position
    Transparency and accountability are the foundation of the relationship between elected public servants and their constituents.
  • Youth
    ACLU Position
    Children do not belong in prison. Community-based responses are more effective, less costly, and keep families involved.
  • Poverty Penalties and Bail Reform
    ACLU Position
    The criminal justice system unfairly punishes people for being poor. People should not face additional punishment or spend more time behind bars simply because they are too poor to pay a fine or bail. We support elimination of monetary payment as a condition of pretrial release. We also believe that insofar as monetary payment remains a condition in some circumstances, it is only fair that bail amounts should be set based on an ability-to-pay determination.
  • Mental Health
    ACLU Position
    Mainers with mental illness need support and treatment, not jails or prisons - in fact, incarceration exacerbates existing illness. And 84 percent of Americans agree that people with mental illness don’t belong in prison.
  • Drug Policy
    ACLU Position
    Substance use disorders are a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem. Seventy-one percent of Americans agree that incarceration is counterproductive to public safety because prison doesn’t do a good job of rehabilitating people with problems like drug addiction and mental illness.
  • Racial Disparities
    ACLU Position
    The criminal justice system treats people of color unfairly. For example, black Mainers are arrested twice as often as white Mainers for marijuana possession, even though research shows that they use marijuana at the same rate.
  • Mass Incarceration
    ACLU Position
    There are far too many Mainers under correctional control. Mass incarceration is not making Maine safer and is costing taxpayers more money than the alternatives. Two in three Americans (68 percent) would be more likely to vote for an elected official if the candidate supported reducing the prison population and using the savings to re-invest in drug treatment and mental health programs.
  • Immigration
    ACLU Position
    District Attorneys should take into consideration the immigration-related consequences of their decisions and work to keep families together. District Attorneys should support municipalities that choose not to participate in federal immigration enforcement.
  • Conditions of Release and Probation
    ACLU Position
    Data from Maine shows violations of probation and conditions of release are major drivers of incarceration. Because people who have not been convicted of a crime are entitled to a presumption of innocence, they should only be subject to conditions of release that are necessary for public safety.
Select Candidate
District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5 District 6 District 7 District 8
Select Candidate
District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5 District 6 District 7 District 8
Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?
Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?
For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?
If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?
Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?
Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?
Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?
Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?
Would you advocate to the Department of Corrections for a shift in budgetary priorities from incarceration to a continuum of community-based alternatives for at-risk and system-involved youth?
Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?
Would you ensure that no child is incarcerated solely for “their own safety” or rehabilitation?
Will you recommend, for all legally permissible cases, the pretrial release of defendants without imposing cash bail unless there is an individualized showing of substantial flight risk or danger to the community?
Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?
Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?
Would you work with businesses in your district to find alternatives to arresting and prosecuting so called “quality of life” offenses that do not genuinely threaten communities, such as camping and sleeping in cars?
Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?
Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?
Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?
Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?
Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?
Will you support legislation to divert people with substance use disorders away from our jails and into community-based or alternative treatment, like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program?
Will you support legislation and administrative approaches aimed at reducing racial bias in Maine’s criminal justice system?
Will you commit to tracking and working to eliminate racial disparities in decisions made by the district attorney’s office, such as disparities in charging decisions, bail recommendations, and plea bargains?
Will you commit to requiring that assistant district attorneys participate in racial equity and bias training to reduce the influence of race on decisions made by the District Attorney’s office?
Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?
Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.
Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).
Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.
Do you oppose the creation of new mandatory minimum sentences?
Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?
Do you support limiting conditions of release to addressing actual threats to the public?
People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?
Would you advocate to police departments in your district to minimize custodial arrest for violations of conditions of release?
Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

Randall’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

First, the priority of the District Attorney’s Office should always be to strive to keep the public safe by enforcing the laws as written and seeking just sentences and resolutions for those accused of crime. I would always seek to strengthen the office with more assistant district attorneys and more staff. With that said addressing the increasing number of individuals who have serious mental health issues is a priority. Determining how to address this issue, whether it be by establishing a court dedicated to mental health issues or by attempting to increase resources at the probationary level or some other means is essential. A careful balance of keeping the public safe while at the same time addressing mental health cases on an individual basis so as to not warehouse people who should not be incarcerated. Also, supervision of defendants both pre-conviction and post-conviction is in need of much improvement. I would include in that bail reform to ensure that the public remains safe against proven dangerous offenders and more resources given to probation in an effort to give that department more options at assisting and monitoring defendants. Finally, I would move to increase the interaction between federal and state prosecution in an effort to have the most serious offenders receive the most serious sentences and to have more joint investigations and prosecutions where possible.

Randall’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

The office will continue to collect mandated data and would make them available for anyone who wants to conduct further study.

Randall’s Response

If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?

The office’s main goal is the prosecution of cases and protecting the safety of its residents. I commit to having an open, transparent office but at this point I would not commit to creating a plan when implementation is an issue with the other duties of the office.

Randall’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

The primary role of the District Attorney is to enforce the law by prosecuting criminal cases. That takes precedence over all. To fulfill this responsibility, it is important to have open communication with all the constituencies in the county and I would be eager and enthusiastic about community outreach in an effort to both listen to and educate the general public and keep them informed of how the office is working to keep them safe.

Randall’s Response

Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?

All options need to be on the table when it comes to the juvenile justice system.

Randall’s Response

Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?

Bind over is an option to be used sparingly, but it should remain available to prosecutors. I would institute guidelines for review of cases considered for bind over, and provide training to my staff in step with current thought and research in brain and behavioral science.

Randall’s Response

Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?

There should be a version of confinement available as an option in juvenile cases although the emphasis needs to be on community-based options.

Randall’s Response

Would you ensure that no child is incarcerated solely for “their own safety” or rehabilitation?

At this point resources are limited and I would not discount jail as an option. Clearly, it is not the preferable option in the case of “their own safety” but it could be the only firm option when trying to find proper placement for the juvenile.

Randall’s Response

Will you recommend, for all legally permissible cases, the pretrial release of defendants without imposing cash bail unless there is an individualized showing of substantial flight risk or danger to the community?

While I would be in favor of having a reasonable bail set for all cases, I could not agree to a policy of no cash bail but rather would review bail on a case by case basis.

Randall’s Response

Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?

I would agree that the issue should continue to be discussed. I would be in favor of bail reform that would bring in more resources for risk assessment and pretrial supervision.

Randall’s Response

Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?

I would agree that one of the factors that the Court should look at when setting bail is the defendant’s resources.

Randall’s Response

Would you work with businesses in your district to find alternatives to arresting and prosecuting so called “quality of life” offenses that do not genuinely threaten communities, such as camping and sleeping in cars?

I would work with businesses in attempting to figure out the best way to deal with quality of life offenses but I would still have arrest and prosecution as an option. A question to ask is if the behavior is affecting a citizen’s quiet enjoyment of life or not.

Randall’s Response

Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?

No but I would work with police departments and emphasize that non violent misdemeanors should be summonsed.

Randall’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

Yes, I would create one for uniformity purposes and publicize that.

Randall’s Response

Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?

Yes but as an option to other alternatives and as long as it does not diminish public safety.

Randall’s Response

Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?

I would be in favor of a court dedicated to the most severe mental health defendants. Again, I would like to see the expansion of the probation department in such a way that mental health issues could be addressed within the confines of the system as it now exists.

Randall’s Response

Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?

However it is categorized, the opioid crises has to be addressed and all approaches need to be on the table, including treatment and education. This is where I would want to see expansion of the probation department and/or expansion of specialized courts to address the issue.

Randall’s Response

Will you support legislation to divert people with substance use disorders away from our jails and into community-based or alternative treatment, like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program?

However, it is important to remember that the DA’s office is responsible for prosecuting crimes in the interest of public safety. My task is to strike a balance between public safety and the constitutional rights of the accused. This often requires a determination of whether a person is committing a crime due to their substance abuse, or if we are dealing with a criminal who also has a substance abuse problem.

Randall’s Response

Will you commit to tracking and working to eliminate racial disparities in decisions made by the district attorney’s office, such as disparities in charging decisions, bail recommendations, and plea bargains?

Race has no place in the enforcement of the laws of the State of Maine and I would always strive to eliminate that as a factor in any decision of the DA’s office.

Randall’s Response

Will you commit to requiring that assistant district attorneys participate in racial equity and bias training to reduce the influence of race on decisions made by the District Attorney’s office?

Training should include recognizing and eliminating this issue.

Randall’s Response

Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?

I support investing in a mental health court and improving the current drug courts and I also support an effort to improve the probation department in an effort to make probation officers more of an asset to the defendant rather than their jailer.

Randall’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.

The Assistant District Attorneys will have discretion in charging decisions guided by the question of “can the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Randall’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).

I will continue the policy of charging cases from the outset based on the answer to the question, “Can I prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt?” While there are time constraints involved in some cases, I would expect the Office to continue to employ the process of asking that question for every case that is submitted for review.

Randall’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.

I would consider diversionary programs as one option in any appropriate case but I would not commit to that recommendation for all cases. Again, diversionary programs including rehabilitation are an important tool for the prosecutor but sometimes the case is either not appropriate or a jail or prison sentence is the just result.

Randall’s Response

Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?

No but I would encourage my prosecutors to use all the information at their disposal in attempting to achieve just sentences. Immigration status is one of those factors that should be considered when evaluating cases. However, it is not the only factor when viewing cases as a whole and it should not be the final determination in making offers. With respect to immigration-safe dispositions, that again is for the prosecutor’s discretion but it is important to balance the needs of the one non-citizen with the safety of the public when determining how much emphasis to give to working so hard to keeping a non-citizen in the country when they are guilty of serious crimes in the United States.

Randall’s Response

Do you support limiting conditions of release to addressing actual threats to the public?

I do support limiting conditions of release to those that are rationally related to the crime charged and the history of the defendant.

Randall’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

However, new crimes should be treated as violations of bail for purposes of resetting bail on the original charge or having the defendant held without bail as a result of the violation.

Randall’s Response

Would you advocate to police departments in your district to minimize custodial arrest for violations of conditions of release?

These arrests for violations of bail should be treated on a case-by-case basis. I would advocate more training for police officers with respect to violations and to make more common- sense decisions with respect to the nature of the violation.

Randall’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

In many cases, random searches are important from a public safety perspective, especially when dealing with defendants who have exhibited an inability to control behavior while under the influence of substances, legal or illegal.

S. Thomas’ Response

Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?

My goal is 25% reduction. Mental health treatment + drug programs will be more prevalent.

S. Thomas’ Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

If no, would you create and publicize one? YES

S. Thomas’ Response

Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?

My commitment is to the enforcement of our immigration laws. I will work with the federal government, not help exacerbate the problem by providing sanctuary to criminals.

Jon’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

1. Change the way we approach prosecution to address the root causes of crime: chronic substance abuse, mental health issues, and poverty. Most, not all, criminal behavior is driven by these issues. We are more effective at reducing crime by addressing the causes than by simply throwing people in jail. Historically we have sought punishment based on the charges alone. This has resulted in mass incarceration nationally, and a disproportionate number of people of color and in the last quintile of income being incarcerated. By addressing each case individually, based upon conduct and the causes of the conduct, we can be more effective, efficient and just in charging and sentencing. 2. Rely on diversion and rehabilitation whenever possible to avoid convictions. 3. Dramatically reduce reliance on pre-trial cash bail.

Jon’s Response

Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?

The District Attorney works for the people of Maine. Policy should be transparent.

Jon’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

Transparency in this way will build trust between the DA’s office and the public.

Jon’s Response

If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?

While resources will have to be dedicated to this project, it will be a priority of mine. I have already discussed with one prosecutor in the Cumberland County office who has experience gathering and organizing data about my desire to collect these statistics and publicize them.

Jon’s Response

Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?

I believe this is already done, and of course I support it.

Jon’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

I do not know that a program could be created as such, depending upon available resources, but as the elected official I will commit to engage and communicate myself with all constituencies in my district, including all of the groups mentioned above. Again, the District Attorney serves the people, and the more communication and transparency, the greater the trust the public will have in the office.

Jon’s Response

Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?

I am a strong proponent of RJ practices, and as mentioned above, am a board member of the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine. When RJ is not a viable or appropriate option, at times other diversion programs can be used. Engaging the young offender in a specific course of action to avoid the court system almost always should be the initial goal.


Jon’s Response

Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?

I am passionate about differentiating kids, i.e. neurologically immature actors whose cognitive capacities differ from adults, from defendant’s whose brain has fully matured. I am against binding over kids as adults.

Jon’s Response

Would you advocate to the Department of Corrections for a shift in budgetary priorities from incarceration to a continuum of community-based alternatives for at-risk and system-involved youth?

It has been shown over time through careful study that incarceration has, on the balance, strongly negative consequences for juveniles and for society once out of the juvenile system. We know treatment and continued contact with family is more effective in moving kids away from criminal behavior and towards becoming productive and independent.

Jon’s Response

Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?

At least, not without having secure, and more effective alternatives available prior to doing so. I agree that incarceration is the last option for kids. I agree it is only to be used when the child is shown to clearly be an immediate threat to society. And I agree that Long Creek continues to be used in a manner inconsistent with those two rules. But until and unless better options are funded and available, for those who meet these definitions, we need Long Creek to remain an option.

Jon’s Response

Would you ensure that no child is incarcerated solely for “their own safety” or rehabilitation?

Incarceration is the wrong tool to ensure safety of the individual.

Jon’s Response

Will you recommend, for all legally permissible cases, the pretrial release of defendants without imposing cash bail unless there is an individualized showing of substantial flight risk or danger to the community?

One of my highest priorities is to reduce reliance on cash bail. But the definition described above leaves out certain activities and circumstances where I would seek cash bail. A quick example: a person who has engaged in a series of burglaries of empty structures and who has a history of doing so arguably is not a danger to the community or a fight risk. I would not trust that person to abide by conditions if bailed without a cash component tied to those bail conditions. Without reliable mechanisms to enforce conditions in place, I would not recommend elimination of cash bail in this kind of circumstance. Under my leadership the incidence of requesting cash bail would be significantly reduced, but I would not agree to eliminating the use of cash bail in the broad range described in this question.

Jon’s Response

Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?

This answer comes with a big “if”. The New Jersey and Alaska systems provides a more just and efficient risk-based analysis of each case. That’s what we all want. The change has been made with mechanisms in place to increase security that bail conditions will be followed. That is, the “either-or” decision made by a judge, pretrial hold or not, is made in these states with an ability to rely on more enforcement of conditions than we currently fund in Maine. If we eliminate cash bail, we must adequately fund enforcement.

Jon’s Response

Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?

In lieu of greater reform, certainly this approach makes sense. A violent offender with a right to cash bail and with a big bank account is out of custody in hours. A misdemeanor theft charge can hold somebody on $200 for months if they have no resources.

Jon’s Response

Would you work with businesses in your district to find alternatives to arresting and prosecuting so called “quality of life” offenses that do not genuinely threaten communities, such as camping and sleeping in cars?

This is a huge issue in Portland, particularly in the Bayside neighborhood. Homeless people ought not be prosecuted for finding a place to sleep. But there is no question that residences and businesses have the absolute right to maintain their premises without trespassers if they so desire. This is an ongoing and necessary discussion with the local people impacted on both sides of the issue, with the police, and the DA’s office.

Jon’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

Not that I know of - Again, transparency is positive for all the reasons described. That said, policy would grant fair discretion to the ADAs to negotiated agreed-upon resolutions.

Jon’s Response

Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?

This is a major priority for me; it is one of the reasons I am running for this office. Our Sheriff, Kevin Joyce, often says the majority of people in the CCJ should be in treatment instead of jail. I agree.

Jon’s Response

Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?

As DA I would work with the Maine Prosecutors Association to lobby our legislators to reprioritize funds from incarceration to treatment.

Jon’s Response

Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?

The notion that addiction can be effectively fought with jail has been losing support for years. Police chiefs throughout Cumberland County agree that treatment of substance abuse issues as a disease rather than a crime more effectively reduces the problem. It is an issue of pragmatism. For most of our lives we have viewed drug use as a failure of will, and that drug users deserve jail. A war on drugs has been fought and lost in this manner. We now better understand that some people are dramatically more susceptible to addiction than others for reasons as out of their control as their height or eye color. The faster we move away from punishment of addicted people, the better.

Jon’s Response

Will you support legislation to divert people with substance use disorders away from our jails and into community-based or alternative treatment, like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program?

I support the LEAD program. I have discussed the program with Portland’s police chief Michael Sauschuck, Scarborough’s Chief Robbie Moulton, Bridgton’s chief Richard Stillman, and others. There is broad support amongst law enforcement – the DA’s office should lead the effort.

Jon’s Response

Will you support legislation and administrative approaches aimed at reducing racial bias in Maine’s criminal justice system?

Anything to raise understanding and combat systemic racism should be employed.

Jon’s Response

Will you commit to tracking and working to eliminate racial disparities in decisions made by the district attorney’s office, such as disparities in charging decisions, bail recommendations, and plea bargains?

We will track statistics, examine them, learn from them, and make any changes that make us better at equally treating every defendant.

Jon’s Response

Will you commit to requiring that assistant district attorneys participate in racial equity and bias training to reduce the influence of race on decisions made by the District Attorney’s office?

Understanding systemic bias and racism could not be more important in any particular workplace than in an office that makes decisions about life-altering convictions and the loss of freedom. Whatever training available that would maximize our office-wide understanding of these issues would be used under my leadership.

Jon’s Response

Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?

I am running largely because I believe we must do a better job of reducing crime by addressing the root causes of crime, rather than incarcerating people in response to their actions, in a majority of cases. I support reducing the prison population and using the savings to re-invest in drug treatment and mental health programs. I cannot, however, commit to setting a particular number as a goal for reduction, at the very least not at this juncture, without having a working command of all of the variables at play and knowing what such a goal might be. I feel to commit to do so today would be irresponsible.

Jon’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.

Unless I am misunderstanding this question, I won’t commit to this. The crimes we believe have been committed should be those charged. Public safety is the first and foremost concern. Example: public safety can certainly be promoted by charging a person with aggravated assault if the defendant used a dangerous weapon and caused serious injury, and aggravated assault is a class B. But as this assault caused serious injury with the use of a dangerous weapon, it is by definition elevated aggravated assault, a class A. I won’t promote bringing the B rather than the A charge because aggravated assault is a lower class and still promotes public safety.

Jon’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).

I am staunchly against overcharging for any reason, and it is currently a tactic used by some prosecutors to gain leverage in negotiation.

Jon’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.

As a philosophy, my leadership would require a far greater emphasis on rehabilitation and diversion, but I would not create a rule requiring it in all cases that do not involve public safety. Again, examples come to mind quickly: a person with a long history of defrauding people but with no violent history, who has been charged with a class B theft for defrauding someone of $100,000? I’d suggest that person should face a prison sentence, even though arguably public safety is not an issue.

Jon’s Response

Do you oppose the creation of new mandatory minimum sentences?

Mandatory minimum sentences often require prosecutors to bring charges based upon the evidence that would result in punishment well beyond what prosecutors, judges and the public would deem just. The prosecutor can ultimately agree to strike language to reduce the charge, but this is ultimately an unnecessary practice if there was no mandatory minimum sentence in the first place.

Jon’s Response

Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?

Judges and prosecutors I have worked with for many years have, for the great majority of cases, taken immigration consequences into account when attempting to resolve cases. That said, it is a practice that has been imperfect in implementation. I would agree clarity in the policy would be valuable. Also, there are times with immigration-safe consequences are, in fact, impossible if considering the severity of the crime and input from the victim.

Jon’s Response

Do you support limiting conditions of release to addressing actual threats to the public?

If “threats to the public” means “public safety” in this question, no, I would not limit conditions of release in that way. Example: Defendant is charged with stealing from someone’s yard. It’s a class E crime, and defendant has no violent history. I’d include a condition defendant not be on or near the property of the victim, or have contact with the victim. I think the defendant poses a threat to re-commit theft on the property of the victim, and poses a threat to the integrity of the judicial process if the defendant contacts the victim to get them to change their story. I’d want to reduce those threats with conditions, even if there is no evidence the defendant is a threat to the victim’s safety.

Jon’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

It is a violation of conditions of release when someone commits a new crime. “Not to drive unless properly licensed” is duplicative, agreed- without that specific condition, if stopped, the defendant has committed a new crime, and has violated bail in so doing.

Jon’s Response

Would you advocate to police departments in your district to minimize custodial arrest for violations of conditions of release?

When the conditions imposed after arrest are just, we can all agree the conditions should be followed, and the way to enforce them is the threat of re-arrest. I would have to be convinced of a different way that is effective in promoting compliance that does not involve arrest.

Jon’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

There are too many instances where I would prefer that a possible bail-check could result in the promotion of public safety if random searches are allowed. Example: a defendant threatens his partner with a knife. Conditions include a prohibition against dangerous weapons, and includes random searches. I believe that defendant is less likely to carry a dangerous weapon if he/she believes they may be checked at any time, and I think the victim would prefer that increased level of safety, rightly so.

Jon’s Response

Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?

It is a case-by-case basis. An assault is Class D. Terrorizing, Criminal Threatening, OUI – all class D, and all very common charges. Sometimes a person committing a minor crime, like criminal trespass or obstructing a public way, refuses to abide by a warning. Most of the time in these categories there is value in an arrest, a removal of the subject from the circumstances of the arrest for the protection of society or specific victims, and imposition of bail conditions with such charges. Absent those issues, I’d encourage use of summonses rather than arrests.

Natasha’s Response

Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?

The public has a right to know the policies implemented by the District Attorney’s Office, how those policies relate to public safety, and how effective tax payers dollars are spent. This Prosecutorial District covers 4 counties. The DA’s office does not currently have a stand alone website and is limited to what each county website wishes to publish. It is an issue that has to be worked out with each county with the goal of having a website for just the DAs office.

Natasha’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

It is extremely important that the Office of District Attorney engage in a review process to insure that bias is not tilting the justice system. The challenge is dealing with 4 different county governments and the issues of finances. My campaign staffers are already doing some basic research about data management systems for the Prosecutorial District. We are looking at what systems exists, what are best practices and how these platforms will work over 4 counties.

Natasha’s Response

If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?

I will work with all four counties to create a common reporting system. I also will reach out to the other District Attorneys around the state in an effort to create standardize reporting across the state.

Natasha’s Response

Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?

Since 1990 the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for investigating all FATAL police shootings. However all, over 100, fatal shootings have been declared to be “justified”. Given that the current criteria for “justified” shootings does NOT include a review of the events leading up to the moments of the shootings, I have reservations about the current process the AG’s office uses when determining justification. I have been reading and considering Eric Holder’s outline for response to police shootings in Chicago. I have been pondering if the District Attorney’s in Maine should follow the recommendations laid out by the former Attorney General concerning prosecutorial response to police shootings. Police and Sheriff departments need to have the funding to under go continuing education that teaches new ways of de-escalation situations that can lead to shootings.

Natasha’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

The District Attorney must be accessible by all members of all communities within the Prosecutorial District. What format this will take needs to be discussed by all stakeholders. Perhaps a Task Force that meets once a quarter?

Natasha’s Response

Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?

Unequivocally yes! Further, I believe that the advances in neurology, cognitive psychological research, and behavioral science research has made it very clear that the frontal lobe, the decision making center of the human brain, continues to develop and it not fully formed until the age of 25. It is important that the prosecutor’s office take these factors into consideration when placing charges, using alternative courts and in sentencing. Community Based Restorative Justice is a great avenue for dealing with children and their decisions that are “criminal” in nature.

Natasha’s Response

Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?

Prison is not the place for children. Current research now shows that the lack of Frontal Lobe development coupled with the influence of Puberty Hormones, it is difficult for teen-agers to resist impulsive risky behavior that can lead to running afoul of the Justice System. These biological influences must be taken into consideration when dealing with children within the Justice System.

Natasha’s Response

Would you advocate to the Department of Corrections for a shift in budgetary priorities from incarceration to a continuum of community-based alternatives for at-risk and system-involved youth?

However, it is incumbent on the District Attorney’s office to work with the local communities to develop community service programs where they do not exist within Prosecutorial District 6. This District covers four counties, each with its own set of infrastructure and capabilities to participate in a Community Base Restorative Justice system.

Natasha’s Response

Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?

Of course I support this in concept. I also would support transitioning the facility to housing adults to help with the housing shortage we are dealing with for adult prisoners. I also believe that we must figure out a format for responding to violent youth offenders.

Natasha’s Response

Would you ensure that no child is incarcerated solely for “their own safety” or rehabilitation?

Someday we will look back and wonder how anyone could embrace this inhuman policy.

Natasha’s Response

Will you recommend, for all legally permissible cases, the pretrial release of defendants without imposing cash bail unless there is an individualized showing of substantial flight risk or danger to the community?

The bail system in Maine needs to be reformed. The District Attorney’s Office should request that only the truly dangerous offenders be held without bail due to the serious risk to public safety. A person’s income or assets should not have a place in determining an individuals incarceration or their freedom. Cash bail is punitive to the poor or the ill and therefore unequal justice under the law. When I am District Attorney, cash bail will only be requested when dealing with dangerous violent offenders.

Natasha’s Response

Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?

Absolutely I would support the elimination of cash bail for non-violent misdemeanors.

Natasha’s Response

Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?

As I stated above I believe that cash bail for non-violent misdemeanors should be eliminated. Bail should be a matter of public safety and flight risk consideration. The entire bail system needs to be overhauled. The current system was last overhauled in 1987 and reflects the issues of the day. It is incumbent on District Attorneys to lobby the legislature to have the statues changed to reflect the knowledge gained about the effectiveness of the policies that influenced the statutes and their amendments over the years.

Natasha’s Response

Would you work with businesses in your district to find alternatives to arresting and prosecuting so called “quality of life” offenses that do not genuinely threaten communities, such as camping and sleeping in cars?

As District Attorney, I will work with the relevant stakeholders involved with this issue to prevent prosecutions and criminal convictions for crimes of poverty. Each case needs to be reviewed on its own to separate out non-violent actions from violent crimes. Community Based Restorative Justice will be used to seek restitution for those who have been harmed in a non-violent manner along with calling in local services to help the individual who is dealing with homeless issues.

Natasha’s Response

Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?

You are asking the police to make prosecutorial decisions. To better answer this question I need more detail about what crimes you are asking about. I believe that for any and all violent crimes an arrest should and needs to be made.

Natasha’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

All prosecutorial policies in Prosecutorial District 6 will be reviewed and overhauled when I am elected. Some of the current policies have been in place since 1972 and need to be changed to reflect the times we live in now. All new policies will be available to the public, defense lawyer and other Prosecutorial Districts around the state.

Natasha’s Response

Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?

Problem solving court have been highly effective in other prosecutorial district. I will establish a Co-Occuring Disorders Court, A Drug Court and a Veteran’s Court in the midcoast.

Natasha’s Response

Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?

Co-occurring Disorders Courts are essential to creating real justice in our communities in the absence of a responsible effort by our legislators to rebuild our mental health infrastructure. Jails and prisons have become the new asylums. This policy destroys both communities and human beings, all the while costing the taxpayers enormous amounts yet delivering nothing in the realm of public safety. Furthermore, it creates dangerous working conditions for our corrections officers who are not trained to deal with mental illnesses.

Natasha’s Response

Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?

I will implement a Drug Court in Prosecutorial District 6, with or without the help of the Maine Judiciary. Drug Court is a cost effective way to balance the Law and the needs of an individual.

Natasha’s Response

Will you support legislation to divert people with substance use disorders away from our jails and into community-based or alternative treatment, like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program?

See Above (I will implement a Drug Court in Prosecutorial District 6, with or without the help of the Maine Judiciary. Drug Court is a cost effective way to balance the Law and the needs of an individual.-

Natasha’s Response

Will you support legislation and administrative approaches aimed at reducing racial bias in Maine’s criminal justice system?

In the State of Maine our population is composed of 1.2% Latino, 0.85% Asian and 0.6% African American. Therefore, with a client of color, it is virtually impossible to ensure that there is race equity in the jury pool. It is vital that the District Attorney’s office acknowledges that implicit bias is real and the race of the defendant as a factor at a jury trial. It also is important that the DA’s office does everything it can do to combat racial bias. I will make it policy for all staff to engage in implicit bias training and education.

Natasha’s Response

Will you commit to tracking and working to eliminate racial disparities in decisions made by the district attorney’s office, such as disparities in charging decisions, bail recommendations, and plea bargains?

See Above (In the State of Maine our population is composed of 1.2% Latino, 0.85% Asian and 0.6% African American. Therefore, with a client of color, it is virtually impossible to ensure that there is race equity in the jury pool. It is vital that the District Attorney’s office acknowledges that implicit bias is real and the race of the defendant as a factor at a jury trial. It also is important that the DA’s office does everything it can do to combat racial bias. I will make it policy for all staff to engage in implicit bias training and education.)

Natasha’s Response

Will you commit to requiring that assistant district attorneys participate in racial equity and bias training to reduce the influence of race on decisions made by the District Attorney’s office?

See Above (In the State of Maine our population is composed of 1.2% Latino, 0.85% Asian and 0.6% African American. Therefore, with a client of color, it is virtually impossible to ensure that there is race equity in the jury pool. It is vital that the District Attorney’s office acknowledges that implicit bias is real and the race of the defendant as a factor at a jury trial. It also is important that the DA’s office does everything it can do to combat racial bias. I will make it policy for all staff to engage in implicit bias training and education.)

Natasha’s Response

Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?

As District Attorney I will work to end jail time for non-violent misdemeanors. I will review cases for low level marijuana possession and push for the conversion of remaining jail time to community service. I will divert people with substance abuse issues into treatment programs if they are charged with non-violent offenses.

Natasha’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.

I commit to charging a defendant with the appropriate charge for which the evidence supports.

Natasha’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).

Overcharging has been a tool to force plea bargains. In to many cases the court’s time, money and efforts by defense attorney’s have been wasted as the current DA’s office uses over charging in an effort to scare defendants into accepting a plea to a lower offense just to secure a conviction.

Natasha’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.

I believe in the use of problem solving courts when possible or appropriate.

Natasha’s Response

Do you oppose the creation of new mandatory minimum sentences?

Mandatory minimums removes a judge’s ability to take into consideration additional information or circumstances when sentencing a defendant. Mandatory minimums do not balance the needs of the community and the rights of an individual. Often, these minimums are passed by the legislature for the public optics rather than an actually overhaul of the Justice System.

Natasha’s Response

Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?

The number one issue for the District Attorney’s office will be the balance between justice for the community and the right of the individual. Community based Restorative Justice takes into consideration the ramifications of all legal actions when striving for repairing damage and harm cause through crimes. This includes all collateral consequences, whether immigration consequences, education, housing, parental rights, employment, and so on.

Natasha’s Response

Do you support limiting conditions of release to addressing actual threats to the public?

By flooding local law enforcement with large amounts of people on limited conditions release, it stresses the limited resources of the police. This constant struggle to redeploy resources means cases drop through the cracks. By focusing on those who are being charged with violent offenses the police can insure the community is protected.

Natasha’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

Often these are “gotcha” efforts to engage in punitive actions that are focused on the poor and ill.

Natasha’s Response

Would you advocate to police departments in your district to minimize custodial arrest for violations of conditions of release?

This is a complex issue that must be dealt with on a case by case basis. This question is to open and vague for a succinct answer.

Natasha’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

Random searches should not be the standard applied to all cases. There must be an articulable suspicion that passes the smell test before a judge.

Natasha’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

1) Transitioning to a Community Based Restorative Justice policy 2) Instituting problem solving courts like Veteran’s Court 3) Seeking additional funding through Federal Grant Programs

Seth’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

Yes, the criminal justice system absolutely has problems and the D.A. is critical in pursuing justice through reform. My first priority is to expand restorative justice to adult offenders as a means of diversion that is victim focused, less harsh, and produces better outcomes. Second to push for diversion and treatment alternatives targeted to at-risk populations including people with mental health issues, substance use disorder, the homeless, and juveniles. Third, it is unacceptable that serious crime goes under-reported -- my office will work to expand support services for victims, build trust with survivors, raise community awareness, and hope to drastically increase the reporting, prosecution, and conviction of sex assault and rape.

Seth’s Response

Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?

Yes, it is my intention to have a transparent office where our policies are clear and available for the public to view.

Seth’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

Yes, I support this idea and believe it to be very important. Data collection has been minimal and inadequate to be able to make important assessments about biases and outcomes in the system. It is my goal to expand the data points we collect and make publicly available.

Seth’s Response

Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?

Yes, I completely support the appointment of independent counsel to prosecute police misconduct cases, including of course officer-involved shootings, however the politics of the AG’s office creates a risk that these cases will not be properly addressed in a fair or timely manner.

Seth’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

Yes, in order to implement the reforms I intend to do, community outreach and collaborative work with other providers and stakeholders is essential. For example, a successful continuum of care model for juveniles will need a collaborative effort, as will restorative justice processes.

Seth’s Response

Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?

I agree that the criminal justice system must emphasize restorative justice practices with juvenile offenders. I also intend to begin a Young Adult Court for offenders between the ages of 18 and 24. These policies limit the relevancy of bind overs; however, I am unable to make a commitment that I would never bind over a juvenile. I expect it would be highly unusual, but there could be circumstances where it might be appropriate.

Seth’s Response

Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?

No, unless the state’s supervisory capacity was expanded as is the case in Washington DC.

Seth’s Response

Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?

No, because cash bail should be phased out for low risk offenders.

Seth’s Response

Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?

Yes, law enforcement should avoid arresting individuals unless necessary to protect the public.

Seth’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

No, and if there is an office policy, I am unaware. From what I have experienced each ADA has discretion to determine what fines to impose. (Part two of the question) Yes, understanding that the facts of each case have to be considered and may effect the ultimate result.

Seth’s Response

Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?

Yes, and my office will hire a Community Outreach Grant Writer, because I understand the difficulty of securing appropriations through a legislature that has been in gridlock for years. There are substantial grant funds available, and my office will work to secure funds to be administered through the office and through various community partners and service providers.

Seth’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.

I will charge the appropriate crime. I will not over charge nor will I undercharge

Seth’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).

Yes, I will charge crimes when there is evidence to support the claim.

Seth’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.

Yes, this is a fundamental part of my platform to implement criminal justice reform.

Seth’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

The honest answer is this is something I’ve thought a lot about and still don’t have a clear position on, I understand the risks of overcharging under this scenario and am open to further discussions.

Seth’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

No, based on my experience sitting on the CODVC, I understand it can be necessary to promote the health and safety of an individual.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

We need to hold more dangerous people without bail through by creating a system similar to the system in Massachusetts known as a “Dangerous Hearing.” We need to punish drug and sex traffickers more harshly to ensure they are taken off the street to keep people safe. We need to be more aggressive with people who commit domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse offenses.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?

I cannot answer this questions “yes” or “no” because “policies” is too vague and overbroad of a term. I can say that if I am elected District Attorney every case will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Inferring that the District Attorney’s Office would have a general “policy” towards the prosecution of a certain type of case ignores the fact that the District Attorney is mandated ethically to uphold justice and protect public safety.

Jonathan’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

The District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute cases based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. We will prosecute cases based upon the charges and facts alleged, with no prejudice based on any factors including race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Therefore, we will not keep information disaggregated by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Jonathan’s Response

If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?

As said above, the District Attorney’s Office will not be prosecuting any cases based upon the race, religions, gender or sexual orientation of defendants.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?

Under 5 M.R.S. §200-A, the Attorney General is an independent prosecutor in any officer-involved shooting.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

It is necessary to engage many groups, including those listed above, but also having law enforcement and other civic groups involved in addressing the problems in our community, especially those involved in the opioid epidemic, domestic violence, and sex trafficking.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?

I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no.” Young offenders who commit misdemeanors or low level felonies should be considered for restorative justice or pre-adjudication diversion programs. Young offenders who commit violent felonies and violent misdemeanors, such as assault, aggravated assault, gross sexual assault, attempted murder, or murder, need to be held in-custody in a secure location to ensure public safety.

Jonathan’s Response

Recognizing that children and youth are categorically less culpable than adults and that they have less impulse control, will you commit to not seek to bind juveniles over as adults? If “no,” explain why not?

Unfortunately, though I agree that children and youth have less impulse control than adults, sometimes juveniles commit violent offenses and need to be adjudicated in a manner that protects public safety. The Maine juvenile code that allows violent felonies to be bound over protects public safety.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you advocate to the Department of Corrections for a shift in budgetary priorities from incarceration to a continuum of community-based alternatives for at-risk and system-involved youth?

I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no.” Although I recognize that some community-based alternatives to incarceration facilities could have some value, sometimes violent youth offenders need to be secured to ensure public safety, and right now there is no plan for these community-based alternatives. In addition, the programs that are in place at Long Creek Youth Development Center offer value that would be difficult to achieve in any community-based program, while also possibly being the only answer that ensures public safety. I would advocate that it would be in the public interest to consider some changes but I would need more information about advocating on what changes need to be made.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you ensure that no child is incarcerated solely for “their own safety” or rehabilitation?

Having worked extensively with Juvenile Community Corrections Officers (JCCOs), who are some of the most hardworking, caring, compassionate, and professional probation officers I’ve ever worked with, unfortunately sometimes housing a youth at the Long Creek Youth Development Center is better than the alternative of leaving that juvenile on the street where he or she is extremely susceptible to becoming a victim of rape, sex trafficking, exploitation, drug addiction, or murder. Sadly, I know of two recent cases where youths requested commitment at the Long Creek Youth Development Center due to their own fear of being left on the street.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?

First off, though incarceration is not ideal, the question inferring that the Long Creek Youth Development Center “causes harm” has no factual backing. I agree it is not ideal to have people in the Long Creek Youth Development Center, but unfortunately, the vast majority of the time it is for the purpose of public safety or their own safety. I do not advocate for the closing of the Long Creek Youth Development Center since (1) right now, we have no other alternatives, and (2) we need to mechanism to secure violent youth offenders. In addition, having recently toured the Long Creek Youth Development Center, I am well aware of many of the programs that these youths have access to that are outside of anything that a youth would be able to have at any community-based program.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you recommend, for all legally permissible cases, the pretrial release of defendants without imposing cash bail unless there is an individualized showing of substantial flight risk or danger to the community?

I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no” without a clearer definition or explanation of term “substantial flight risk.” Cash bail is a mechanism to ensure the integrity of the judicial system, ensuring a person shows up to court and ensuring public safety. Even if a person is arrested for a misdemeanor, that person needs to participate in the adjudication of his or her own prosecution. If this person has a history of failing to appear for Court, cash bail is the best mechanism to ensure he or she shows up.

Jonathan’s Response

Alaska and New Jersey have eliminated cash bail and in each state it’s expected to significantly reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars. Would you support legislation to eliminate cash bail at the state level as a condition of pretrial release?

According to stats recently released, New Jersey pretrial services, which is now the government entity used for this no-cash ball system, is going to be running a significant deficits of millions of dollars for years to come under their new system. The premise that millions of dollars is saved is flawed. As a prosecutor in Cumberland County, the current system works. The stats at the jails in Maine from 2015 show that less than 13% of prisoners are held based upon their inability to make bail. Bail ensures people show up to court, and the blanket elimination of cash bail would increase failures to appear in Court and more people with arrest warrants.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you support correlating bail amounts to defendants’ financial resources so as to reduce disproportionate impacts on the poor?

Prosecutors often agree to personal recognizance based upon the crime and if there is little or no criminal history. We do not make bail recommendations based upon a person’s financial situation, rich or poor. Making bail recommendations based on economic situations would be counter to our goal to uphold justice. It would lead to a disparity that one economic class would be treated different than another. I do think the State needs to be able to hold people without bail on a showing of “dangerousness” which come after an evidentiary hearing, a ruling by a judge, and a designated amount of time that prosecutors would have to bring that person to trial.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you work with businesses in your district to find alternatives to arresting and prosecuting so called “quality of life” offenses that do not genuinely threaten communities, such as camping and sleeping in cars?

I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no” because it is unclear. First, we do not prosecute people for camping or sleeping in cars. Second, the idea to “work with businesses” makes an assumption that businesses have some sort of role in making arrests or prosecutions. I can say that prosecuting quality of life crimes, such as criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and indecent exposure (if it is a situation of urinating in public), is important to increase the quality of life and the safety of people who live in those areas. If areas are allowed to have crime run rampant, drugs, violence and crime will increase in those areas and increase the dangers to those who live there. I support speaking to businesses as well as other members of the public for ideas how to solve our community problems.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you encourage police departments in your district to issue summonses rather than arrest people for most Class D and E (misdemeanor) crimes?

There are many Class D and E crimes that involve violent offenses, such as domestic violence offenses, assault, reckless conduct and criminal threatening. Issuing summons as opposed to making an arrest can put public safety at risk.

Jonathan’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

If no, would you create and publicize one? NO Each case needs to be handled on case-by-case basis. I would make public the fact that the District Attorney’s Office will seek restitution where appropriate and fines where appropriate or if it is mandatory by statute.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?

I agree that jails are not appropriate for those with mental illness or mental health issues. If a person presents a public safety risk, however, and no alternative is available, jail may be the only suitable option to protect the public.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you commit to working to expand the treatment programs available for people with mental health issues, including asking legislators for appropriations and working with communities?

I am willing to commit to advocate for expanding treatment programs available for people with mental health issues. I would also advocate for more resources to fight opioid addiction, sex trafficking, and having dangerous defendants held without bail until trial.

Jonathan’s Response

Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?

I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no” because it ignores the fact that the legislature has made drug possession and trafficking a criminal offense. Prosecutors do not pick and choose the laws that we prosecute. We are mandated as members of the executive branch to execute the laws. If the legislature no longer makes these drugs possessions and trafficking a crime, then the District Attorney’s Office will no longer be involved. I would support legislation for treatment and education programs. As District Attorney, I will be out speaking to the public to try to increase education and awareness about the dangers of opiate use, which will help with the opiate epidemic.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you support legislation to divert people with substance use disorders away from our jails and into community-based or alternative treatment, like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program?

Again, I cannot answer this question “yes” or “no” for the same reasons listed above. If the legislature defines certain actions as crimes, as the executive branch, the District Attorney’s Office is mandated to execute the laws as criminal is necessary. That said, I do support diversionary treatment for defendants with limited records, who are users and not traffickers, and who do not pose a public safety risk.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you support legislation and administrative approaches aimed at reducing racial bias in Maine’s criminal justice system?

Racism is misguided, ignorant, and evil. I do support the concept at reducing racial bias in Maine’s criminal justice system. However, I would need to know the specific legislation in order to be able to support it.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you commit to tracking and working to eliminate racial disparities in decisions made by the district attorney’s office, such as disparities in charging decisions, bail recommendations, and plea bargains?

At the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, we do not base prosecution on race in any way shape or form. Tracking such information would be unnecessary. If there is evidence that there are prosecutors in Cumberland County are acting in a fashion that bases prosecutorial decisions on race, then this issue may need to be revisited.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you commit to requiring that assistant district attorneys participate in racial equity and bias training to reduce the influence of race on decisions made by the District Attorney’s office?

In 2016, Rachel Talbot-Ross of the Maine NAACP came to the Maine prosecutors Conference and taught a program about inherent bias. Though I found her talk interesting, I have never witnessed any prosecutor in the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office act in any fashion with an inherent bias towards any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Due to that, I do not think it is necessary to this type of training. If there was evidence of an issue that came up, then this issue may need to be revisited.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you pledge to set a goal and work to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District by 2022?

Although I have not seen any evidence of a problem of “mass incarceration” in Cumberland County, the core reason that people go to jail is based on actions that people take prior to their involvement with the District Attorney’s Office. I cannot pledge to something that I have little control over or to say the District Attorney’s Office is going to stop prosecuting cases in order to reduce the number of incarcerated people because that could create a public safety risk. Furthermore, the District Attorney’s Office goal is to increase public safety and uphold justice, which I will continue to do as a prosecutor.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Charging the lowest level crime that still promotes public safety.

As District Attorney, I will charge what is appropriate based on the facts alleged and the law written.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Only charging crimes that the evidence clearly supports (i.e., not overcharging).

I answer this question “yes” only because the District Attorney’s Office is already committed to justice, which includes not overcharging and basing charging decisions based on the evidence provided. Prosecutors are ethically obligated to behave in this manner.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you commit to the following in order to reduce the number of people under correctional control in your District: Recommending rehabilitative or other diversionary programs instead of incarceration unless required for public safety.

The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office already recommends diversionary programs instead of incarceration if appropriate based on numerous factors, including public safety.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you oppose the creation of new mandatory minimum sentences?

I believe people convicted of Aggravated Sex Trafficking should have a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. I also believe that people convicted of engaging a prostitute should have a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail.

Jonathan’s Response

Will you pledge to adopt a written policy and training which encourages prosecutors to consider the immigration-related consequences of prosecutorial decisions at all stages of a case and to reach immigration-safe dispositions for non-citizens whenever possible?

The Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky made it clear that immigration consequences need to be discussed with defendants by his or her attorneys, otherwise it can be grounds for a claim of “ineffective assistance of counsel.” I think it is unnecessary to have two brands of justice, one for citizens and one for defendants who may have immigrations issues. In a similar vein, I would reject the notion of creating a policy that would treat defendants who may have immigration issues more harshly than those without those issues. Collateral consequences are not just for consideration for those facing immigration issues. If I am elected District Attorney, my Assistant District Attorneys will be instructed to take into consideration collateral consequences for any person pleading guilty, to act with compassion and understanding, but not to risk or sacrifice public safety or the interests of victims.

Jonathan’s Response

Do you support limiting conditions of release to addressing actual threats to the public?

I cannot answer this “yes” or “no” because the term “actual threats” is vague. I support limiting conditions of release based on the facts of the crimes alleged.

Jonathan’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

Though on its face this seems logical, conditions of release are used for bail purposes to increase public safety. During the pendency of a cases, it is possible that circumstances change that do not ensure the safety of the community and therefore bail conditions are tools to protect public safety. Defendants have the ability to file a motion to amend bail if there is a change in circumstances.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you advocate to police departments in your district to minimize custodial arrest for violations of conditions of release?

I answer “yes” based upon my personal knowledge that police departments to not advocate for custodial arrest unless there is a need to protect public safety.

Jonathan’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

Random searches and testing are tools that can be used to protect public safety for a defendant who is on bail.

Frayla’s Response

Do you agree with the 91 percent of Americans who say that the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing? If yes, what are your top three priorities to fix?

My top three priorities of things to fix include: (1) reducing incarceration through the use of diversion programs, treatment models, and expanding the role of restorative justice; (2) move away from cash bail, so that people are not held in custody solely because they are unable to access resources; and (3) treat everyone fairly by working to reduce systemic inequality.

Frayla’s Response

Will you make policies of the District Attorney’s Office publicly available on the office’s website unless mandated as confidential by law or otherwise legally prohibited?

Transparency is important and makes sure that people are treated fairly. I believe in making policies related to the handling of cases publicly available so that everyone is on a level playing field.

Frayla’s Response

For data that you are already mandated to collect, will you commit to publicly posting statistical information on charging decisions, convictions, declinations, and diversion program placements – disaggregated by race and gender?

I believe in making this information available, but currently there is no mandate to collect it and no system in place that allows for it to be disaggregated and disseminated.

Frayla’s Response

If the District Attorney’s office is not already collecting the data mentioned above, will you pledge to create a plan for collecting and publicizing that data?

Yes, I do. I will seek out additional funding sources to collect and analyze this data. Given we know that there are disparities in our system, it is important to be able to measure and ensure that our system of justice does not perpetuate inequality.

Frayla’s Response

Would you ask the Attorney General to appoint an independent prosecutor in all officer-involved shootings?

I need more information to answer this question. I have never worked as an assistant attorney general and I do not know what the best process is for these investigations. I do support neutral and transparent inquiries into all officer involved shooting.

Frayla’s Response

Would you commit to strengthening or initiating community outreach programs in your office and to engage and communicate with all constituencies in your district, including indigenous communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, community-based organizations, and criminal justice reform advocates, in addition to groups representing the faith community, victims, seniors, and businesses?

I believe that part of the District Attorney’s job is to connect with the community and respond to the needs of all the people we serve. In my current role, I participate in recruiting and have intentionally hired individuals from a variety of backgrounds. I also regularly reach out to community partners. I have visited the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, and then attended a training by the center’s executive director; I attended the Building Bridges Conference; the Equality Maine Dinner; the MLK Dinner and look forward to having an open-door policy at the District Attorney’s Office so that I am accessible to the community.

Frayla’s Response

Do you support sending young offenders to restorative justice and other pre-adjudication diversion programs?

Absolutely! Every effort must be made to support children and families to avoid or limit system involvement whenever possible.

Frayla’s Response

Would you advocate to the Department of Corrections for a shift in budgetary priorities from incarceration to a continuum of community-based alternatives for at-risk and system-involved youth?

We do not currently have an adequate system of community-based programming to serve the youth in our community. It is vital that we support our youth and create more community-based alternatives.

Frayla’s Response

Do you support closing the Long Creek youth facility in favor of more effective alternatives that don’t cause harm? If no, why?

I strongly support giving our youth the tools and treatment they need to help them become successful adults, if the infrastructure is created to support our youth more effectively than in our current system, of course I support progress.

Frayla’s Response

Is there existing policy in your District on when the Office asks for fines or restitution other than what is statutorily mandated? If yes, would you make it publicly available? If no, would you create and publicize one?

Yes (would create and publicize one)

Frayla’s Response

Would you commit to diverting people with mental health disorders away from jails when there is a community-based or alternative treatment available that does not involve incarceration?

I would also factor in the protection of the community when making these decisions.

Frayla’s Response

Maine faces an ongoing opioid crisis. Will you support legislation and administrative approaches to treat opiate addiction as a disease rather than a crime so we can divest from the criminal justice approach and invest in treatment and education?

Can I check the “yes” box twice? The criminal justice system is not capable of treating substance use disorder. We must approach the opiate epidemic as a public health crisis and create recovery supportive environments to help people stay alive and to address their needs.

Frayla’s Response

People are often subjected to conditions of release that are already prohibitions under criminal law, such as driving with a suspended license or using illegal drugs. Would you support eliminating such duplicative conditions?

For most cases I would support eliminating duplicative conditions, but sometimes they are necessary to serve the public interest. For example, prohibiting contact with a victim of domestic violence even when a Protection from Abuse Order is in effect.

Frayla’s Response

Would you commit to not recommend random searches (suspicion-less search) as a condition of release?

There are times when random searches are necessary to enforce bail conditions, however, its use should be limited.

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The ACLU of Maine a non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for political office. We advocate for a fair justice system that fosters public safety while reducing the number of people behind bars. This website features candidate responses to our District Attorney Questionnaire and all DA candidates in the state were sent a questionnaire and invited to respond.

FAQs

When is the election?

Primary election: Tuesday, June 12
General Election: Tuesday, Nov. 6

Does ACLU Maine endorse candidates?

No. The ACLU of Maine is a non-partisan organization, and we do not take a position on candidates. Our goal is to provide voters with information about where the candidates for district attorney stand on key criminal justice issues that impact our communities.

Why is ACLU Maine involved in this election?

The ACLU has a long history of advocating for criminal justice reform. We seek to educate voters about the power of district attorneys, and to provide voters with information about where the candidates stand on the issues.