Cooper Overstreet Promotes Bigger Ideas, Not a Bigger Jail

He will:

Eliminate Cash Bail in Douglas County
  • The majority of the people in the Douglas County Jail have not been convicted of any crime—nearly all are there because they can’t afford to pay bail. The social costs of cash bail—the loss of housing, employment, and family—are devastating for people who simply don’t have big enough wallets to buy their way out. 
  • The Douglas County District Attorney’s office can no longer be morally complicit in this practice. If elected, Cooper will advocate to end cash bail in Douglas County. No person should be held in jail just because they can’t afford to buy their way out. 
Advocate for Shorter Prison Sentences
  • There is no evidence that harsher sentences make communities safer; all they do is keep more people in jail longer and waste resources. Cooper’s office would seek probation over prison, and encourage judges to sentence offenders to less time in prison.
Refuse to Prosecute Crimes of Poverty
  • Our jail and court is full of people being prosecuted simply for failing to pay outstanding fines and fees. This is a cruel and unnecessary waste of resources. Cooper’s office will not prosecute any crimes, such as Driving While Suspended, where the underlying reason is an inability to pay fines. Being poor is not a crime and it should never be treated as such by the justice system.
Expand Diversion Programs and Alternatives to Incarceration
  • A felony conviction, even without a jail sentence, can be devastating. It can have a life-long impact on employment, housing, immigration, student loans, driver’s licenses… the list is endless. These impediments do not make us safer—instead, they create circumstances that only make it more likely a person will re-offend. Existing diversion programs often cost money in order to participate in and complete and have onerous requirements that render success nearly impossible. 
  • Douglas County currently has one of the lowest rates of felony diversions in the state. As your DA, Cooper will work to fix that. His office will expand eligibility for diversion programs, and will take away impediments to participation so more people can be successful in the programs. A person will never be denied access to diversion due to an inability to pay.
Treat Drug and Mental Health Issues as Public Health Problems, Not Criminal Conduct
  • The drug epidemic is a public health emergency that requires compassion and treatment, not punishment. The latest medical research on addiction suggests that treating drug use as a public health issue, as opposed to a criminal justice issue, is a more effective approach to reducing harm and promoting public safety. Nevertheless, our jails and prisons are filled with people who have done nothing more than suffer from addiction. 
  • As your DA, Cooper will not prosecute sale or possession of a gram or less of narcotics. For possession or sale of larger amounts of narcotics, his office will consider all appropriate diversion programs so that person may avoid a conviction if they are not a danger to the community.
  • Cooper’s office will utilize research-based approaches to keeping individuals with mental-health disorders out of the criminal justice system. He will consult with professionals prior to charging to ensure someone with a mental illness is not unnecessarily charged with an offense.
Support the Establishment of a Public Defender Office

A fair justice system requires zealous work from both the prosecutor and the accused person’s defense attorney. However, currently, access to high-quality representation is conditioned on being able to pay. The current appointed counsel system – which pays a low hourly fee to private attorneys to handle a high volume of cases- is insufficient. We need to establish a full-time, dedicated, and fully-funded public defender office to ensure that everyone has access to the full attention of a high-quality defense attorney, along with social workers, and access to community programs to make our rehabilitative approach a success.

End the Death Penalty

The death penalty is an inhumane, unfair, and cruel punishment that should be ended. Cooper’s office will not seek the death penalty in any case.

Cooper Overstreet Means Transparency and Accountability in the DA’s Office

He will:

Invest in the Community, Not in Prosecution
  • The Douglas County District Attorney has been aggressively implementing fines and fees. These costs fall disproportionately on working class people. Cooper’s office will reduce fines and fees to the minimum amount possible.  
  • Any property or money his office obtains from the legal process or grants will go directly to investment in housing, job and education services that evidence shows actually reduce crime.
End Civil Asset Forfeiture
  • Prosecutors are incentivized to seize property, because that money goes to their budgets. A DA should not be profiting off of criminal conduct. Therefore, as your DA Cooper will never receive financial benefit from a decision to prosecute; no DA Office should. Simply put, he will not rely on civil asset forfeiture to prosecute crime in Douglas County.
Create an Anti-Racism Task Force to Investigate Racial Disparities in Our Criminal Justice System
  • Prosecutions in Douglas County disproportionately target people of color. For too long, the Douglas County District Attorney has turned a blind eye to this problem, failing even to keep basic statistics on racial impact. If elected, Cooper will create an Anti-Racism Task Force to conduct racial impact analysis of all of prosecutorial policies and charging decisions, thus working to reduce systemic racism in the justice system.
Maintain a Full and Transparent Open File Policy
  • Cooper’s office will maintain a transparent open-file policy that begins after arrest, not just after an individual has been charged; an individual deserves to know the evidence against them at the outset to make fully-informed decisions about their case, which can’t happen if prosecutors are hiding the ball.
Create a “No-Call” List for Bad Cops and Develop a Conviction Integrity Unit
  • While the majority of law enforcement officers do their jobs with honor and dignity,  prosecutors currently still rely on the testimony of officers who have committed serious misconduct. For officers in Douglas County who have proven themselves to be unreliable witnesses due to previous misconduct, Cooper will commit to not relying on their testimony in court through the establishment of a “no call” list.
  • Further, the people of Douglas County deserve to have confidence in prosecutions instituted on their behalf. As DA, Cooper will create a conviction integrity unit to investigate prior convictions to ensure misconduct has not occurred.
Follow the Community’s Lead in Creating Policies That Work
  • As your DA, Cooper will interact with and seek the input of community stakeholders in both how his office is run and how charging decisions are made. This includes consultation with experts, mental health professionals, and community leaders throughout all stages of the judicial process.
  • Additionally, Cooper will promote public participation in the court system. His office will welcome and facilitate the creation of a civilian court-watch program to make sure our prosecutors are doing their jobs. Cooper will not shy away from the public which he serves.

Cooper Overstreet Demands Justice For All in Douglas County

He will:

Promote Justice and Dignity for Survivors
  • The current Douglas County District Attorney’s office has failed to protect survivors of sexual assault. Many instances of sexual assault are never prosecuted, and rather than charge abusers, the District Attorney has chosen to bring “false report” charges against survivors in some instances. Cooper’s office will work to re-train officers and assistant district attorneys to serve survivors in a trauma-informed way, and will investigate ALL allegations of sexual assault. No case should ever be dismissed because of improper investigation. As your DA, Cooper will make sure that doesn’t happen.
Prosecute the Powerful Who Abuse the Law
  • No one should be above the law, regardless of wealth, social status, or job title. Cooper’s office will use its resources to investigate and prosecute powerful actors in Douglas County who have harmed the public—landlords who exploit tenants, police officers accused of misconduct, and corrupt businesses who abuse their employees. Cooper will not shy away from prosecuting those in power. 
Treat Kids Like Kids
  • Young people are developmentally different than adults. But far too often, our criminal justice system wants to treat them like adults. This is despite substantial scientific evidence that doing so is detrimental to their development and an ineffective deterrent to crime. 
  • As District Attorney, Cooper will oppose transferring children to the adult system. He will also advocate for home-based alternatives to detention in juvenile detention facilities.
Protect Our Immigrant Community
  • Immigrants in Douglas County live in the shadow of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a racist and out-of-control federal agency. Douglas County should be a sanctuary for immigrants, not a trap. For too long, the Douglas County District Attorney has done nothing to protect our immigrant community from ICE.
  • Cooper’s office will not cooperate with ICE. It will not assist in arrest, detention, or investigation of individuals for immigration-related offenses. Furthermore, Cooper will tailor any criminal prosecutions of immigrants to avoid overly-harsh immigration-related consequences.
Create a Robust Restorative Justice Program
  • Restorative justice recognizes that crimes can cause harm to all members of the criminal justice community, including victims and defendants. Our justice system must work harder to repair that harm. With the cooperation of all parties, transformation and healing can occur.
  • Douglas County deserves to have a robust restorative justice program, and Cooper will partner with interested stakeholders to create one here.

Vote Coop in the Douglas County Democratic Primary on August 4, 2020!

Go to KSVotes.org to register to vote or to request a mail-in ballot.