Media Alert: Magazine Does Hatchet Job on San Francisco's Reform-Minded District Attorney 11/15/97

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(The following letter writing request was submitted by Kevin Zeese, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy. For a full copy of the original article, e-mail your fax number to [email protected].)

Terence Hallinan, the District Attorney of San Francisco, has had a hatchet job of an article published about him in San Francisco magazine. ("Crime, No Punishment," November 1997, cover story.) Terence was the only DA in California to support Proposition 215 and when the DEA raided Flower Therapy and threatened doctors he stood up against them. It is time for activists to stand up for him by writing the magazine at [email protected]

Some of the areas where Terence was criticized were:

  • Being the only prosecutor in the state to support Proposition 215. (He should be complimented for being the only prosecutor to think like the people he represents. In SF, 215 passed with a landslide vote. He represents the people.)
  • Describing as "legendary bad-boyness" his history as a civil rights activist, defense lawyer and two term member of the Board of Supervisors who proposed legalization of prostitution. (This sounds like a history that could produce an excellent prosecutor who prioritizes cases with violent offenses on top and victimless crimes on the bottom, plus corrupt cops who abuse peoples rights will be watched by a DA who enforces the law against all people -- including police.)
  • Failure to prosecute misdemeanor cases because "the diversion of most misdemeanor cases means fewer trials to hone prosecutorial skills..." (as if the purpose of prosecution was to teach trial technique -- this is not a sport, peoples lives are at stake).
  • For standing up to the DEA when they raided Flower Therapy and threatened California doctors. (Terence was doing his job, he was enforcing the law. Prop. 215 is the law and the DEA needs to know that they cannot violate the will of the people. The DEA needs to learn to obey the law, hopefully Terence can begin that training process.)
  • For diverting first time, low-level crack dealers to an education program where they are required to go to school (whether high school equivalent or college), write book reports, learn to function in jobs and are given hope for the future. (The article quotes conservative criminologists like James Q. Wilson while ignoring the success rate the program has already shown. It is about time a law enforcement official put education above incarceration. California's incarceration rate is something to be embarrassed about not proud of.)

Every letter should not focus on all of these issues. A short letter of two to three paragraphs should focus on one or two issues. Pick the issues near and dear to your heart and write about them.

-- END --
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