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 is the founding attorney of Fleming Law LLC, an immigration law boutique in Philadelphia. He has worked for a variety of criminal justice and harm reduction nonprofits, including Law Enforcement Action Partnership and Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, and provided campaign services for over a dozen district attorney campaigns. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic, Slate and many other outlets.

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