ARIZONA NEWS

Maricopa County Attorney candidates propose prosecution reform

Oct 12, 2020, 4:15 AM | Updated: 10:25 am

Maricopa County Attorney candidate Alister Adel (left) and  Julie Gunnigle (right). (Facebook Photo...

Maricopa County Attorney candidate Alister Adel (left) and Julie Gunnigle (right). (Facebook Photos)

(Facebook Photos)

PHOENIX – The candidates for the Maricopa County Attorney are focused on reforming the justice system, including lowering the number of offenders who are incarcerated, implementing diversion programs and working to build community relationships.

Incumbent Republican Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said she’s running for election to continue the reform process she’s undertaken in the last year since being appointed, including implementing diversion programs for offenders and minimizing the number of cases being prosecuted to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“Over the last year, we started working hard to implement many, many programs and I’m proud to say many of those have come to fruition to focus on smart justice and recidivism reduction,” Adel said on The Think Tank with Dr. Mike O’Neil on Saturday.

Adel was appointed to the position in 2019 when former County Attorney Bill Montgomery was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle runs a civil practice in the Valley where she practices civil litigation and defends the rights of children’s access to education when they have disabilities.

“We need a Maricopa County attorney who will put people and taxpayers first,” Gunnigle said. “I’m running for county attorney to fix our broken criminal justice system and to ensure equal justice under the law or every Arizonan.”

Gunnigle said that means being tough on violence, instituting reforms that enhance accountability and transparency, and making sure the punishment fits the crime, no matter who is being prosecuted.

Adel’s office was most recently in the spotlight when she declined to file charges against Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper George Cervantes, who was accused of shooting and killing Dion Johnson on May 25 after a struggle on the Loop 101 near Tatum Boulevard in north Phoenix.

Adel said whether somebody is an officer or not, they will be held accountable if they’re found to have committed a crime.

“We prosecute officers all the time. I will tell you, though, in reviewing officer involved shootings, I take this very seriously,” Adel said.

“We have a Critical Incident Review team made up of prosecutors that I expanded immediately when I got there to include non-lawyers on there, and now finally, we’ve got civilians on their from the outside.”

For challenger Gunnigle, she said it’s a day-one priority to set up an independent unit to review use of force cases.

“It is absolutely a conflict of interest to ask prosecutors who work day in and day out with fine folks in uniforms to go ahead and hold them responsible and accountable when there’s an alleged improper use of force,” Gunnigle said.

Both Adel and Gunnigle said they would work to lower the number of people that are in the system. During her time as county attorney, Adel has implemented diversion programs, like allowing those convicted of low-level DUIs to serve part of their sentences at home.

“It’s incumbent upon us as prosecutors to make sure that we’re doing our part for our community because once somebody is institutionalized, they’re a much higher rate to repeat their crimes and recidivate,” Adel said.

She added that her campaign has set a goal to bring Arizona’s incarceration rate down 26% over the course of the next four years.

“I think that’s really important that we’re fiscally responsible and that when we’re charging persons and cases that we’re doing so with all of the interest of justice in mind: Our community that’s been harmed, the person who is allegedly committed the offenses, but also the taxpayers who have to pay for all of this justice,” Gunnigle said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deion Alexander Garcia, 27, is accused of child sex crimes while working as a dental assistant in C...

Nick Borgia

Chandler dental assistant indicted for sexual abuse of child patients

A Maricopa County Grand Jury has indicted Deion Alexander Garcia for sexual abuse of young dental patients while providing x-ray exams.

2 hours ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

2 hours ago

Brian Galvez and broken window...

Nick Borgia

Man arrested for allegedly throwing rocks through windows of Mesa businesses

A man was arrested for allegedly throwing rocks through the windows of eight Mesa businesses, police said.

3 hours ago

Arizona CD-3 primary debates: Recap of Democrats, Republicans...

Serena O'Sullivan

Republicans, Democrats running for CD-3 debate on economy, border, abortion before primary election

Did you miss the two Arizona CD-3 primary debates between Republicans and Democrats on May 22, 2024? This recap covers the important parts.

5 hours ago

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the failed bor...

KTAR.com

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema blasts ‘bickering’ Senate before border bill test vote fails

Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema expressed her frustration Thursday with the U.S. Senate's unwillingness to pass meaningful border legislation ahead of its failed test vote of a bill she helped negotiate.

5 hours ago

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)...

KTAR.com

Katie Hobbs believes Secure the Border Act would drive businesses out of Arizona

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs believes the Secure the Border Act would drive businesses out of Arizona if passed.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Maricopa County Attorney candidates propose prosecution reform