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 MAINE'S DAs.

There are eight prosecutorial districts in Maine, each with an elected district attorney. Find out where your DA stands on key criminal justice issues.

All candidates for DA were sent a questionnaire before the November 2018 election and invited to respond.

Select County

MEET MAINE'S DAs.

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

Todd Collins

Democrat - DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Matthew Foster

Republican DID NOT RETURN SURVEY

Natasha C. Irving

Democrat

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
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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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The ACLU of Maine is 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 current district attorneys' responses to our District Attorney Questionnaire. All DA candidates in the state were sent a questionnaire prior to the November 2018 election 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.