Julie Gunnigle’s Position on the Diversity Problem in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

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The Failures of Allister Adel

In an ideal criminal justice system, race operates neutrally in prosecution outcomes. Yet, Allister Adel’s office has accomplished the opposite: the continued zealous over prosecution of people of color, in line with her predecessors. ​The ACLU’s 2020 report​ that her office continues to contribute to the racial disparity in sentencing that is overwhelmingly punitive towards people of color. This is a continuance of the last four decades of exclusion and mismanagement of this Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Adel has continued with the status quo of her predecessors and has no diversity in her executive leadership. Ten months into her appointed tenure, she is making decisions that impact our state with a group of individuals that do not adequately represent the heterogeneity of the 4.4 million Arizonans living in Maricopa County. This is unacceptable for the third-largest prosecutor’s office in the nation and demonstrates her inability to address problems that impact the most marginalized in our community.

It is unsurprising that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has difficulty attracting and retaining attorneys of color. Adel created new executive and leadership positions and handpicked the occupants. None of these positions were open to competition and zero of these personal choices resulted in any semblance of true racial diversification. Can Adel credibly say there are no qualified persons of color who could add value and perspective to her decision-making and leadership functions? Her most recent ‘diversity’ photo op​ hammers home how tone-deaf she is during this critical juncture in our nation.

My Campaign’s Seven Point Diversity Plan:

  1. Dismantle the culture of exclusivity that has persisted for over forty years.
  2. Create racially diverse executive and leadership teams, establishing diverse, experienced perspectives to tackle our County’s most challenging issues and solve them.
  3. Establish early pipeline outreach.
  4. Engage in conscious professional recruitment in our community and across the nation to attract the best and brightest talent.
  5. Engage in professional retention efforts with attorneys and support staff.
  6. Proactively reach out to directly impacted communities in order to repair the relationship between the County Attorney’s Office and communities of color eroded by four decades of open hostility.
  7. Engage office integrity efforts, to address and resolve documented racist policies.

Why Does Prosecutorial Diversity Matter?

Prosecutors wield substantial influence, including life and death implications. It is essential that the Maricopa County Attorney’s office reflects the community it serves. If we will accomplish the highest notions of justice, it will be because we bring all voices and perspectives into the decision room, not just one race, one voice.

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