“What’s not normal is when you go into court to rehabilitate signatures, to show that signatures are valid, that you have opposition from the county recorder, and then you also have Barbara LaWall involved,” said Roopali Desai, the attorney who represented the initiative’s supporters.
LaWall, who leaves office at the end of December after 24 years as county attorney, said she opposed the initiative because she doesn’t want the state to rewrite state statutes on victims’ rights and sentencing via the initiative process.
“I am not opposed to criminal justice reform. I am not opposed to prison reform. I am not opposed to giving people second chances,” she said.
“Writing statutes and putting them on the ballot as initiatives is a bad way to make criminal justice policy.”
“In this particular case, it (the initiative) overturns some of the mandatory sentencing laws, it overturns truth in sentencing,” she said. “There were a lot of very technical things that I found objectionable.”
Supporters of the initiative said what she did invalidated the apparent will of the voters to consider prison reform.
“My concerns, as they stand now, are that nearly 400,000 signatures were gathered during COVID. I think that sends a really strong message about the dedication and interest and investment in this very first step to allow non-violent offenders to earn early release,” said Laura Conover, who will succeed LaWall as county attorney in January.
“From a sheer democracy standpoint, I’m disappointed the voters aren’t going to have a choice.”