Pretty good article on the state of things in Bradford v. Lykos, with a well-needed focus on the issues the office faces and the direction the two contenders want to take it going forward.
Harris County voters looking for a district attorney candidate with a tough on crime" theme are out of luck this fall.
The situation is a startling departure from the law-and-order tone set for the last 30 years by Republican former district attorneys John B. Holmes Jr. and Chuck Rosenthal.
But Rosenthal resigned in disgrace early this year, opening the door for Democratic candidate C.O. Bradford and Republican candidate Pat Lykos, former police officers who have never prosecuted a criminal case, to put the local justice system on trial instead.
Bradford, the former Houston police chief, and Lykos, a former felony court judge, make sure to mention, in a county known nationwide for its frequent use of the death penalty, that the worst criminal offenders should be prosecuted to the hilt. But, despite substantive differences between the contenders, they both put greater emphasis on reforming the system so that many minor offenders get drug or mental illness treatment rather than a cell in the already crowded jail.
"Simply locking everybody up for everything isn't going to get us out of the process we are in now," Bradford said. "Our taxes are high, the jails are full and crime continues to go up. So let's exercise good stewardship of fiscal resources, reduce crime and understand that most people who commit offenses are salvageable, they can be rehabilitated, but they must be given realistic opportunities to reintegrate back into our society.
"That's not occurring and there are a number of reasons for that ... There are a lot of people who make a lot of money, billions of dollars, designing, building, constructing (prisons) and there's not a concern about whether you are guilty or innocent. They get paid to keep a warm body there. That's not justice."
Lykos called this "a critical period in our county. We have a tarnished law enforcement system. It is bad for justice, it is bad for public safety and it's bad for business. I pledge to you to restore public trust and confidence in the district attorney's office.
"I do not want to see youngsters with a (juvenile justice) record that will irreparably cloud their future and will prevent them from going into certain occupations," she said.
Point to ponder: Will we someday look back at the work of our soon-to-be-elected DA and reconsider the legacy of Johnnie Holmes as has happened to Henry Wade? My guess is no, partly because from all I have ever heard of Holmes he was much more of a standup guy, and also partly because Harris County doesn't have anywhere near as much old-case DNA in its possession as Dallas does. I suspect some kind of reckoning will be out there, but I don't think the needle will move that much.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 12, 2008 to Election 2008