Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey (Courtesy photo)

“I have the legal knowledge and experience from within the DA’s office to meet any challenge that comes my way, ” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey who is up for reelection (date).

Lacey is up against two others vying for her spot but is confident that she is the best person to handle the job and everything it comes with. This week, Lacey spoke to the Sentinel about what she has already accomplished and what her vision is moving forward. Her reelection is important, she said, so that she can implement criminal justice reforms in a positive way, a way that protects all of LA County’s residents, especially the most vulnerable.

When Lacey was first elected in 2012, she set out to reduce crimes involving, human trafficking, senior fraud and gangs. She has made a significant amount of headway in each of those areas, she said, starting with the rescue of vulnerable children.  It’s an issue that she has become passionate about.

“[When first elected] I didn’t anticipate the human trafficking of young girls and that, that was something that gangs had gotten involved in,” Lacey said.

“In the past, the justice system would just prosecute the girls for prostitution. But we started saying, ‘hey they’re victims.  The money is going to the gangs. So, we created a human trafficking unit and I put some of my gang prosecutors in there and since then we have tripled the number for human trafficking. The majority of those were gang members. We’ve really made progress in that area and rescued vulnerable children from those situations. ”

Protecting senior citizens has also been at the top of Lacey’s list. Every other Friday her office puts out alerts that warn seniors about the latest scams. The scams are reenacted on videos that are accessible via her website.

“Our Friday alerts have been picked up around the world in different publications,” said Lacey.

“So, I’m really proud of that.  It’s not what you would call a sexy kind of change but we get Google alerts whenever someone reprints one of our Fraud Friday alerts.”

Lacey has also gone to bat for the mentally ill, advocating for and procuring federal funding for housing and other services.

“In 2013, I put together a group of people who never talked to each other, “she said.

“They were law enforcement, medical professionals, prosecutors and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). We started talking about how we can do better and that took off. We have created training for officers on how to deal with mentally ill people and we have advocated with the state to get more places for people to go.

(courtesy photo)

“That’s the real issue. People either go to jail or the streets and neither one of those is good. We’ve changed some conservator laws to make it easier [to help people].

And, for African Americans it’s really important because when I look around I see a lot of black people in jail who suffer from mental health issues and they just need help and services.”

Moving forward Lacey said she wants to work on expanding programs for youth, helping get out of the juvenile justice system and preventing them from ending up there in the first place. She also wants to create more transparency in the DA’s office.

“One of the biggest challenges I face as an elected DA is that a lot of stuff I can’t talk about because it’s confidential. I would like to figure out how to bring more people into the DA’s office.

“This is a tough job. It’s so much more complicated than people realize. So, I’m asking people to vote for someone who has the experience, the knowledge, the soul and the heart to do it. ”

The Los Angeles Sentinel is part of Lacey’s long list of endorsements which includes Senator Diane Feinstein, LA County Federation of Labor and Crime Survivors PAC.