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D.A.-elect Jackie Lacey vows to navigate prison realignment

November 7, 2012 | 12:03 pm

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty.-elect Jackie Lacey said Wednesday that she hopes to help the office navigate the challenges of realignment, shifting responsibility for some criminals from state prisons to counties, calling it a "huge threat to our public safety."

Lacey will replace Steve Cooley, who has strongly backed her campaign. Before her election, Lacey served as Cooley's chief deputy. 

"Right now, L.A. County has had the lowest crime rate in 60 years, but realignment presents a serious challenge for me as the next district attorney," Lacey said.

FULL RESULTS: California races

Lacey, who has been heavily involved in implementing the county's existing alternative sentencing courts, has said she hopes to expand alternative sentencing, opening courts in new locations, including Lancaster and Long Beach, in part as a means to combat jail overcrowding and to save money.

But she also said she would support legislation to reclassify some offenders who are currently categorized as non-serious and non-violent, making them eligible for realignment. Lacey said she thought identity-theft offenders and high-level drug dealers should be eligible for state prison.

County election results showed Lacey beating rival Alan Jackson 55% to 45% Wednesday morning with 100% of precincts reporting. Jackson issued a statement conceding the race early in the day.

VIDEO: L.A. voters discuss 2012 election

Lacey's victory will make her the first woman and first African American to hold the Los Angeles County district attorney's office when she is sworn in Dec. 3. But Lacey and Cooley said she won because she was the most qualified candidate.

"This was on the merits — this was the best candidate," Cooley said. "It’s not about race or gender."

Lacey agreed, saying she had worked hard to get to her current position.

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"I think the significance [of my election] is that it may inspire other women and certainly African Americans and other minorities to seek a career in law enforcement," she said.

At Lacey's campaign party Tuesday night, however, many supporters and friends spoke of Lacey's election as a historic achievement, including her mother, Addie Phillips, who grew up in the era of segregation.

"I feel great, because a lot of people don't live to see their child make history," Phillips said.


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— Abby Sewell