A gentleman named Dean Becker of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition just published interviews with Harris County DA candidates Clarence Bradford and Pat Lykos. The subject is primarily the "war on drugs" and its effects, but there's some more general stuff in there as well. Both are available as MP3s and written transcripts. For Bradford, here's the MP3 file, and here's the transcript. For Lykos, here's the MP3 file, and here's the transcript. I'll give a brief highlight of Bradford's interview to whet your appetite:
Dean Becker: Have we made any progress on this drug war, say in the last five years?
Clarence Bradford: I think that we must understand that dealing with drugs, the enforcement component, the interdiction--we've worked hard there and we've spent a lot of resources in that area but we've done very, very little when it comes to prevention and education. You cannot be effective in the drug war, in my view, if you don't have a effective education component and rehabilitation component to the strategy. And that's where we failed.
Dean Becker: It is my hope that, my gosh, there's growing public awareness even within the legislature and so forth and our fiscal resources are being drained and we can't afford to lock up the world's largest amount of prisoners here in Texas anymore. Do you think there's any chance the legislators will make some changes in the next five years?
Clarence Bradford: I think that if we look at Harris County, the last election, we had five Harris County bond proposals on the ballot. They all passed except one and that was to build a new 2,500 bed jail facility. The voters said no, they're not going to do that. And I think they said 'no' because, not that they want criminals loose on the streets, they want criminals held accountable by means other than locking everyone up. In the news now, we are shipping hundreds of prisoners, Harris County prisoners, over to the State of Louisiana, paying companies to house Harris County prisoners. I think that's not the thing we should be doing. We should be looking at the precious bed space we have and exercising good fiscal stewardship of the resources we currently have to keep people in Texas, house people in Texas and reduce the number of people that we are incarcerating. Again, not to allow violent criminals or repeat offenders or anyone who poses a threat to the community, don't let those people go free, that's not what I'm an advocate of. I'm not soft on crime but I do believe that we must use the precious bed space that we have.
Dean Becker: You know the crime lab here has been shut down for the fourth time in six years for incompetence, corruption, you name it, and you were police chief during one of those shut downs but you're not some CSI scientist and by virtue of the fact that it keeps on failing long after you left I'm not assigning blame to you. My good friend Attorney Jeff Blackburn and his Texas Innocence Project keep getting people released from prison because of bad lab work done all over this state. And I'm asking you, sir, what can we do to protect the innocent from false evidence and lazy dry labbing techniques?
Clarence Bradford: Thank you. When I became police chief, Mayor Bob Lanier appointed me police chief in 1996, I continued to rely on the same crime lab, the DNA section supervisor who two previous police chiefs have relied on because I don't have a science or biology degree, so I relied on that person. Now we've learned subsequently that that person had been doing a poor job all along and was doing a poor job then. The crime lab has been a problem, it has been documented since 1980. It continues to be a problem today, in my view, and it will continue to be a problem until we establish an independent process, a process that the crime lab is independent of the police department, independent of the district attorney's office and where scientists are allowed to do their work and evidence speaks for itself. It must be independent, in short, for this reason. To get the proper resources that are needed for the crime lab and the proper scientific oversight, we need to have a laboratory that is independent of the police department and the district attorney's office.