Will have to defend controversial policies as one of nation’s Soros-backed district attorneys; faces two challengers, including career prosecutor
By Allen D. Payton
In a press release issued Monday and received by the Herald on Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced her campaign for re-election in the June 7th Primary Election.
On February 12, 2022, at the U.A. 342 Union Hall in Concord, state and county elected and labor leaders joined more than 150 community members as Becton kicked off her campaign.
“Four years ago, Contra Costa voters elected me as your district attorney with overwhelming, majority support,” said DA Becton. “In these challenging times, feeling safe in our homes and our communities is what we all deserve. I am proud to say I have worked hard to deliver safety, justice and progress for the people of Contra Costa County. I am running for re-election to continue the important work of making our communities safer and our system more fair for everyone, and I thank the people of Contra Costa County for their support.”
The press release claims, since taking office, DA Becton has kept her promise to make real and lasting change, transforming the District Attorney’s Office into one that works for everyone in Contra Costa County and delivering justice for victims. She has worked to support victims, focus resources on violent crime and reduce mass incarceration. Under her leadership, the District Attorney’s Office also has developed and enhanced diversion programs and encouraged treatment for those who suffer from mental illness and drug addiction. She is also advancing youth justice by establishing a juvenile diversion pre-filing program and creating the Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force to recommend alternatives to prison for young people.
During her tenure 51 veteran deputy DA’s have left the department for one reason or another, and 40 rookie deputies were hired following their graduation from law school. No lateral hires of veteran prosecutors from other agencies to fill the vacancies have occurred.
“My priority has always been serving the people of Contra Costa and making our voices heard on issues that matter most,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11). “When it comes to the safety of our families and our communities, there is no one who will work harder than District Attorney Diana Becton. Her proven leadership has led to tremendous progress to help keep our communities safe and our system more fair and equitable. I’m proud to support her campaign.”
Among her other accomplishments, District Attorney Becton:
- Co-leads the FBI Safe Streets Task Force that coordinates the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement on violent crime.
- Continues to file felony charges in organized retail theft incidents in Walnut Creek, coordinating with law enforcement partners throughout the Bay Area.
- Eliminated backlog of untested sexual assault kits and established the county’s first Human Trafficking Unit.
- Established Cold Case Homicide Unit to pursue justice for the victims and families of unsolved murders.
- Joined Code for America initiative to dismiss thousands of old marijuana convictions, which disproportionately affect people of color in the community.
- Piloted the California County Resentencing Program to address excessive sentencing.
- Partnered with The Vera Institute of Justice (VERA) on data analysis to uncover and address bias in the disposition of criminal cases. (See related article)
- Strengthened the internal investigative procedures associated with the investigation of officer-involved shootings and banned use of carotid hold by DA office investigators. (See related article)
- Successfully held a local steel company accountable for dumping toxic waste in the community. The local steel company was forced to pay a $4 million fine. (See related article)
“District Attorney Diana Becton has made lasting changes in her efforts to transform and reimagine the DA’s office into one that works for everyone,” said BART Board Director Lateefah Simon, who represents District 7 which includes portions of West County. “We need a leader who is prioritizing safety for our communities while staying resolute in working to reduce mass incarceration’s harm on Black communities and communities of color. I thank her for her courage and historic leadership.”
As part of that transformation and efforts to “reimagine the DA’s office”, Becton has taken controversial positions on various issues during her term in office, including supporting banning campaign contributions for DA candidates from police officer unions. (See related articles here and here)
She has also issued controversial policies for her department. In 2020 Becton issued a policy requiring prosecutors consider the reason for looting during a state of emergency before charging suspects with a crime. (See related article)
Then in late 2020, she announced a policy that prevents her department from prosecuting certain first-time criminals including drug offenders arrested with small amounts or for other crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft, disorderly conduct. (See related article)
In addition, in an effort to fulfill a campaign promise from 2018, in December, Becton announced a new Neighborhood Restorative Partnership program, a voluntary, neighborhood-focused, adult diversion, restorative justice initiative addressing root causes of criminal behavior, reducing recidivism, enhancing community relationships, and promoting public safety and quality of life. She put her office’s Assistant Investigator/Facility K9 Handler in charge of the program, who said in December, the procedures, guidelines, and logistics are still under development. As of Wednesday, Feb. 16, a group of volunteers was interviewed and selected to participate, but the program has not yet launched. (See related article)
Appointed by the Board of Supervisors, Becton took office in 2017 as the first woman and first African-American District Attorney in the County’s 167-year history “with overwhelming countywide and community support” her campaign press release stated. She was then elected in 2018 as one of several left-leaning, progressive DA’s in the nation backed by billionaire George Soros in an effort to reshape America’s criminal justice system. According to a report by RepublicBroadcasting.org, Becton was “backed by $275,000 from Soros in 2018,” and is “one of the first in the position to have zero prior experience as a prosecutor. During Becton’s first years in office four Contra Costa cities (Richmond, Antioch, Pittsburg and Concord) made the list of the top 100 most dangerous cities in California in 2018, and both violent crime and property crime increased by several percent during 2019.”
Becton married a Richmond minister in summer 2020 and caused controversy by hosting the wedding and reception in her back yard violation of COVID-19 orders. She was chastised by the Board of Supervisors for her actions. (See related articles here, here and here).
Becton is currently the only African-American District Attorney in California. According to the Contra Costa Elections office, as of Tuesday, Feb. 15, she faces two challengers in the race, including criminal defense attorney Lawrence Strauss, who placed a distant third in the 2018 election, and veteran Contra Costa Deputy DA Mary Knox. Read more about DA Becton at www.dianabecton.com.