Will Houston Tough-on-Crime Prosecutor Take a Fall?

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Through elections of prosecutors, voters in various places favor a shift toward more progressive leadership in the criminal justice system, says The Intercept. In Chicago, a city Republican Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed to in speeches, two-term incumbent Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez lost her primary battle to Democratic challenger Kim Foxx. Alvarez was criticized for inaction after the Laquan McDonald shooting and for her defiance and foot-dragging in wrongful conviction cases. “Our criminal justice system is profoundly broken,” Foxx said in a debate, and Alvarez “doesn’t even realize that it’s broken.” In August, Florida prosecutor Angela Corey , who is best known for unsuccessfully prosecuting George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin, pursuing criminal charges against a woman who fired a gunshot into a wall as a warning to an abusive husband who had threatened to kill her, and prosecuting a 12-year-old as an adult, lost to an little-known corporate lawyer named Melissa Nelson.

These elections are part of a small but growing trend in district attorney races  in which voters are eschewing the traditional tough-on-crime narrative that has dominated such elections for decades in favor of more reform-minded candidates whose platforms include holding police more accountable and taking more seriously cases of wrongful conviction. Next month, at least one name could be added to the list: Devon Anderson, Houston’s district attorney. Anderson won her first election in 2014 after framing herself as tough on crime while also trying to position herself as a change agent. The promise to reform an office long dominated by hard-nosed leaders has gone unfulfilled, with Anderson’s tenure in the nation’s fourth-largest city punctuated by scandals, including her office’s treatment of an emotionally vulnerable victim of sexual assault.

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