See Laurie Eiserloh’s 13-point Plan for Criminal Justice Reform in Travis County
Travis County Criminal Justice Reform
A REFORM PLATFORM FOR TRAVIS COUNTY ATTORNEY
December 9, 2019
As prosecutors, our statutory and ethical duty is to ensure that justice is done. Travis County has made significant reforms, such as reducing its reliance on cash bail, and not prosecuting for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
But there’s much more to do.
As County Attorney, I will initiate a series of reforms that will fight bias in the system. Systemic bias starts long before cases reach the County Attorney’s office, and we must do everything we can to stem the results.
Crucial reforms include restructuring the intake process so that prosecutors can reject cases at the outset, where there are evidentiary problems or where it appears that police bias was the motivation for the arrest. My vision for reform also includes making more treatment options and counseling available, and making it known that free, and low cost services, are available to help people get records their expunged and/or sealed.
We also have to protect victims of serious crimes, such as domestic violence. My office will use evidence-based practices to achieve fair and just outcomes. Victim safety is a top priority.
My plan also includes retaining a data expert who can review whether our office is meeting its goals and to make that information easily available to the public.
Climate Change Accountability
“Climate change is the most significant issue of our time. In August 2019, Travis County joined with hundreds of other local governments across the country and declared a climate emergency.
“As extreme weather becomes the norm, taxpayer costs associated with flooding, fires, displaced persons and other climate-related problems have significantly increased. I support Travis County joining other governmental units in litigation against major contributors to climate change. This litigation is similar to previous lawsuits against big tobacco and opioid manufacturers and the goal is to recoup taxpayer costs associated with climate change and incentivize polluters to rollout clean energy technology before it is too late.”
Fast, Fair, & Bias-Free Legal Service
“Misdemeanors comprise 80 percent of all criminal charges, and a disproportionate number are brought against people from marginalized communities. A person with a misdemeanor on their record can face a number of problems including disqualification from student loans, housing, certain jobs, professional and trade credentials and favorable immigration status.
“While the Travis County Attorney’s Office has high standards, it must respond to increased numbers of cases and changing community expectations. I support improvements to case intake, diversion programs, removing impediments to speedy trials, improvements to prosecutor and victim services training and expunction assistance for those who cannot afford a lawyer.
“I also support technological solutions to victim and witness coordination and contact. For those who wish to turn their lives around, my goal is to restore them to productivity as soon as possible. For victims, it is crucial that public resources be focused on serious crimes such as family violence and DWI.”
Mental Illness & Addiction Solutions
“For many people, the jail is the mental hospital of last resort. I will explore and advocate for better options for people with mental illness or addiction, options that are not centered around the criminal justice system.”
Family Violence Resources
“Victims of domestic violence are often re-victimized by their intimate partners and often have limited options for escape. I will prioritize additional resources and work for better communication and greater efficiency in this critical area.”
“A person who has been charged with a misdemeanor is often at an entry stage in the criminal justice system. When possible, I want to give those who want to turn their lives around at this early stage the opportunity to do so.”