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Dumanis: Reduce Prison Population But Protect Public

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis speaks to the media, Aug. 20, 2013.
Katie Schoolov
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis speaks to the media, Aug. 20, 2013.

San Diego County DA Discusses Nationwide Push For Criminal Justice Reform
San Diego County DA Discusses Nationwide Push For Criminal Justice Reform GUEST: Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney, San Diego County

President Barack Obama visited a drug treatment program in New Jersey Monday to bring attention to the nation's mass incarceration of people for drug-related crimes.

It's part of a nationwide push toward reforming the U.S. criminal justice system, from the White House to Sacramento. The effort comes as the federal government is preparing to release hundreds of federal inmates due to drug sentencing changes last year.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is part of a national group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, that is working to reduce the number of people behind bars. The group met with Obama in October.

“This is a group of law enforcement leaders that have joined together — 50 states represented — who want to see a reduction in the incarceration rate without jeopardizing public safety,” Dumanis told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday.

Dumanis said the group is focusing on four areas: changing the laws as they relate to low-level offenders, finding alternatives for custody, reducing mandatory sentences and strengthening ties to the community.

She said racial disparities within the system also need to be changed.

“We think we have to put balance to prevent harsh treatment and disparate treatment with members of the minority community,” Dumanis said.

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