Rape Survivor Advocates Endorse Pro-Criminal Justice Reform DA Candidates

    Rape survivor advocacy groups are typically assumed—often inaccurately—to support the most “tough-on-crime” candidates for prosecutor positions. District Attorneys, meanwhile, typically hide their obsession with the War on Drugs by aggressively promoting themselves as crusaders for vulnerable victims.

    For example, after marijuana legalization passed in California in 2016, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan issued a SWAT raid to attorney Jessica McElfresh’s home. The reason? Money laundering, because McElfresh was the attorney for a legal marijuana business.

    Yet Stephan carefully crafted an image for herself as a “real-life Olivia Benson” from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She handily won re-election in 2018.

    But the days of overzealous DAs getting away with their out-of-touch stances on drugs through the appropriation of victims’ rights language may be coming to a close.

    WARRIORS, formerly known as “Brock Turner for Prison,” is a rape survivor advocacy group nearly 70,000 members strong. Last night, the group endorsed prosecutor candidates promising both better enforcement of rape laws and a reformist approach to victimless drug-law violations.

    In Minnesota, WARRIORS endorsed Mark Haase for Hennepin County attorney. Haase has promised a greater focus on rape cases and survivors, while also advocating for marijuana legalization.

    The group also endorsed Albert Roberts for Tarrant County, Texas, district attorney over incumbent Sharen Wilson. Roberts’ campaign slammed Wilson for the non-prosecution of a sexual assault of a young child and other egregious sexual assaults. DA Wilson’s number-one most common charge against the two million residents of her county, which includes Fort Worth, is possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.

    Other prosecutor endorsements from the group included Danny Carr in Jefferson County (Birmingham), Alabama; Rachael Rollins in Suffolk County (Boston), Massachusetts; and Andrea Harrington in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

    • Rory Fleming

      Rory is the founder of Foglight Strategies, a campaign research services firm for forward-thinking prosecutors nationwide. He previously worked for the Fair Punishment Project, which was founded as a joint project of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and its Criminal Justice Institute. He was also a communications specialist for the National Network for Safe Communications, a research center at City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Rory is a licensed Minnesota attorney. He lives in Philadelphia.

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