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CityThinker: Meet Jackie Lacey, Our New Legal Leader

Illustration by Andy Friedman

She’s L.A. County’s first African American district attorney—and the first woman to hold that post. “The election of the first African American president changed my view. I started to think, ‘What else could I do?’ I set these limits for myself. I’ve got to go for more.” California’s reform of the three-strikes law last year? That’s a good thing. “We can make mistakes in this society if we base a law on one set of circumstances. Because if we did that, then everybody would be going to jail for spitting on the sidewalk.” To deal with the already-overcrowded prisons, Lacey wants to offer the option of treatment instead of serving time. “Then we can save some of that valuable bed space, turn lives around, and save the taxpayers money.” Lacey’s predecessor, Steve Cooley, is her very own professional 911. “I’ll call him and say, ‘You left me this two-page memo, but there’s nothing in it about this issue that came up today. Do you have any advice?’”