If you’ve voted before, you won’t be surprised to see a number of slates empty or with only one candidate running for sheriff, public attorney, or judicial roles, which has helped fuel our mass incarceration problem. Fortunately, strong progressive candidates are running to serve in these roles this fall. The Progressive Candidate Series focuses on progressive district attorneys, judges, and sheriffs. This November, the majority of states will hold elections for candidates to fill these offices. For an interactive list of law enforcement and judges up for election this year, see the following:
- The Appeal: Prosecutor and Sheriff Elections in 2020: A Masterlist and Calendar
- Ballotpedia: State Judicial Elections, 2020
If you want to change the system, you must change the player.”Monique Worrell
Florida desperately needs criminal justice reform. The state incarceration rates are some of the highest in the country. “Over the past two years (April 2018 through March 2020), the 9th Circuit State Attorney’s Office sent nearly 3000 people to prison. These individuals were sentenced to serve almost 15,000 years plus 72 life sentences.” Of those, 1,653 people were sent to jail for 5,700 years as well as 2 life sentences for actions that did not involve physical violence. While the population of Orange and Osceola counties is only 19.3 percent Black, nearly half of people sent to jail on non-violent convictions were Black. That’s why Orlando and Osceola counties need Monique Worrell for State Attorney.
After winning a contested primary this August, Worrell will face Jose Torroella (Independent) this fall. The two are competing for the job after the first Black state prosecutor, Aramis Ayala, a champion of justice reform, chose not to run for reelection after an onslaught of retaliation by Republicans including former Governor Rick Scott.
Ayala endorsed Worrell, who has wanted to be involved with criminal justice reform since high school. A first-generation American, Worrell grew up in New York and Orlando. After becoming a Florida lawyer, she served as a public defender, in private practice, and as a law professor at University of Florida Law School.
She left the school to become the founding Director of the Conviction Integrity Unit in the State Attorney’s Office in Orange County, Florida. Most recently, she’s served as Chief Legal Officer at REFORM alliance, a non-profit focused on justice reform.
As State Attorney, Worrell plans to use discretion to determine if and when incarceration would actually make the community safer. While Worrell acknowledges the effectiveness of diversionary courts, she also says these alternatives do not go far enough in making justice fairer for everyone. Her administration will only use the harshest penalties such as maximum sentences and mandatory minimums in the most severe cases, and will attempt alternative interactions for the young and elderly involved in the system. In many cases, she will focus rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Please support Monique Worrell.
For more on the incredible power state attorneys can have in reforming our justice system, see “Prosecutors in the United States” from Wesley Bell.
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