Restorative Justice – ep.133

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In this episode, District Attorney of Solano County Krishna Abrams delves into the role of promoting positive change and making a difference in her community. Abrams shares the collaborative efforts to establish community trust throughout Solano county through engaging in outreach and advocating for restorative justice. 

Krishna Abrams has served as Solano County’s District Attorney since 2014 where she is responsible for ensuring the safety of her community and creating a positive impact through community outreach programs aiming to achieve restorative justice.

Melyssa Barrett:  Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melissa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Today I get to have a conversation with Krishna Abrams. She is the District Attorney for the County of Solano. She has been in her current role for nearly 10 years and served as Deputy District Attorney for 14 years. Prior to her role as the current district attorney, she received her Juris Doctorate from the McGeorge School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Davis. I think what’s most interesting is her accomplishments as a district attorney. She hosted the first prod fair, the first health fair, and held a human trafficking forum. She held Kids Court, opened the Courage Center two, which is a child advocacy center. She established the first restorative justice program in Solano County Neighborhood Court. She hosted First Safety in School Symposium regarding active shooters on school campus. She established the first Solano County major crime task force. She established a prosecutor for the day program and establish the first Make it right, clear your warrant program.

She has received several awards, the SOROPTIMIST International for Women Making a Difference. Solano County Sheriff’s Department Citation Award for dedication for Public Safety, CDA Prosecutor of the Year for midsize counties, Solano County Prosecutors of the Year, and as da, the US Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhood Award, the Public Champion Children Award from Children’s Network and the Champion for Victims Award from Courage Center two. Please join me in welcoming Krishna Abrams. All right. I am so excited. I say this every week. I get excited. I get to meet wonderful people that I’ve never met before, and they are always doing wonderful things to create a better community, a better world, and this week is no different. I get the opportunity to talk to Krishna Abrams, who is our district attorney from Solano County. So welcome to the Jolly Podcast.

Krishna Abrams:  Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate

Melyssa Barrett:  It. Yes, so I’m excited because I don’t often get to talk to the da, and so I am excited that you have allowed me to invade your space and that you’ll kind of give us some assessment, some perspective from your view, but I would love it if you could tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are, what your journey has been. How did you even figure out that this was your life’s work?

Krishna Abrams:  Thank you. When you reached out to me, I found this old paper that I wrote back with the typewriter back in 1990 when I graduated uc Davis, and I found it in my material and I read it and I thought, oh my gosh, I stand for exactly what I stood for. Then when I wanted to go to law school, as I do now, and the quote that I wrote at the very end of my paper, I was trying to get into a law school and my LSAT score wasn’t great, and I was trying to tell them all the things that I had done, and I said at the very end of the paper, I said, my idea of success is working in the criminal justice system and making a contribution. And so it brings kind of tears from eyes because I’m like, that’s what I wrote at 1990, and now it’s what, 36 years later? And so I feel like I’ve wanted to be a prosecutor since I was in fourth grade.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, wow.

Krishna Abrams:  Yeah. My dad was a prosecutor, but my parents were divorced. I was raised by a single mom with my brother and I and grew up poor. We lived in Marin County, moved up to Mount Shasta. I remember the summer of my junior year going into my senior year, my mom says we had to get jobs and we were low income, so there was these certain jobs that we were allowed to have. So I ended up having to be a janitor at my high school. That summer. I was a cheerleader and I played sports and I was getting teased by all my friends that I was a janitor, but I worked there every morning at seven in the morning, got off at three 30 making I think it was like three 50 an hour. And I’ll never forget though, going back into school my senior year when kids would go to drop stuff in the bleachers or just throw food on the ground, I’d be like, no, no, no.

I’m op that I wax that floor. And so as much as I was mad that I had to have that job that summer, I really feel like it developed my work ethic for what I have to today. I’ve always worked hard at no matter what I’ve done, and when I didn’t have much, I always said, I’m going to do this. And I think that’s been my whole kind of journey in terms of, I remember, like I said, not getting a great LSAT score, meeting with my counselor at uc Davis, and the counselor told me, law is not for you. You’re going to have to pick a different profession. I thought, well, I’m going to show her because that’s all I ever want to do. When we were in fourth grade, I was in a joint class with a combo class. My brother was in fifth grade and I was in fourth grade, and we had a mock trial, a, that was my first kind of introduction into wanting to be a prosecutor.

And so from that point forward, I was like, this is what I’m doing. I don’t care how it takes to get there, but I’m going to do it. So that’s what I did. So I’ve been doing it. I worked actually as a public defender right out of law school. Everybody wanted to be a prosecutor, and I applied everywhere. I wasn’t getting a job, and I became a public defender for a few months, and it was actually the best thing I ever did. I feel like it made me a better prosecutor when I became one. And so all I want to do is help people be a voice for victims, speak up for those who couldn’t speak for themselves, get justice for people that had been harmed, and that was my goal my whole career. I didn’t intend to run for da. Then people from the community wanted me to run in 14, and I was just a trial lawyer.

I didn’t know these politicians. I just was a trial lawyer trying to fight for rights for victims. And so at the time, I felt like things were not going in the right direction in our office, and I felt like ethics is the pillar of the district attorney’s office, and if you don’t have ethics, then you don’t have anything, right? The juries rely on you. The community relies on you, the judges rely on you. The defense bar relies on you. And so I ended up being pushed to run and I ran, and it was pretty crazy because I ran against my boss. He raised 450,000, I raised 40. He had all the endorsements. I had none, but I just really got out in the community and spoke for what I stand for. And I remember my kid was nine at the time, and I just kept telling him, win or lose, I’d be out of a job.

It was pretty scary. I said, win or lose, we’re fighting for what’s right. He walked precincts with me. It was a great time together in showing him that we were fighting for what’s right. And ever since I’ve been a prosecutor and to today, I’ve always said we seek and do justice, which means to do what’s right every day regardless of the consequences. And that we have, my da, when I started years and years ago in Tula taught me that you have an enormous amount of power as a prosecutor and don’t ever abuse it, and you always do what’s right. And so I’ve had to make a lot of unpopular decisions throughout my career, but I can go home, look in the mirror and know that I’m doing what’s right. So I stand by that.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s fantastic. Tell me a little bit about your role as the da, because I think in some cases we hear so many different things now with respect to prosecutors, especially in their relationships with law enforcement. So can you just talk a little bit about what people expect from a prosecutor?

Krishna Abrams:  Yes. That’s a very, very good question because especially we’ve had a lot of officer involved fatalities in our community, and obviously those are very, very sensitive cases. And when we’ve had a lot of backlash from the community when we’ve had officer involved, fatalities is I get a lot of emails, a lot of calls, a lot of postcards, you name it, thinking that I am in charge of that police department, and that’s independent from the district attorney’s office. So we work together with all these different police agencies, but they work independently of us. What’s very important is that we are filing decisions whether we reject a case or file, a case is made independently from the police department. They’ll do the investigation of a case, they submit it to our office, we review it and determine can we prove this beyond a reasonable doubt? If we cannot, we reject the case. If we believe that we can, we will file the case.

Melyssa Barrett:  And I know that there is this dynamic you talked about between community and law enforcement. So once you get that investigation on your desk and you make a decision one way or the other, how does that dynamic, I mean, because assuming you have to, in some cases, pull in law enforcement for specific cases, whether it be testimony, whatever, how does that relationship work, especially if they are involved in let’s just say bad behavior?

Krishna Abrams:  So we have to make independent decisions. And so for instance, I can give you examples. We have filing meetings on murder cases. They’ll bring in a case, they’ll say that they’ll present it to us, and we have to make a determination whether we’re going to file that case. I’ve had, and this was a few years ago, there was a case that came through that an agency wanted filed a murder charge. And the more we looked at it, it was clearly self-defense claim, and we have to be able to overcome the self-defense claim. And so we were not going to file it. And it was challenging because we obviously had a disagreement. But I think that what’s really, really important is that we do have to make those tough decisions and independent from the police agency. And so I will say, people say, oh, they’ll make accusations that the DA’s office is in with the police departments, and so they’re going to just rubber stamp everything. And that’s not what we do. And if we were to do that, that I shouldn’t have this job. We’ve had to prosecute police officers, friends of mine, we’ve had to prosecute for very serious crimes and because that’s what I took an oath to do. And that means you prosecute all the crimes that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt throughout Solan County, regardless of who you are.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. Wow. So switching topics. I know, and I’m hoping we’re going to also talk a little bit about National Victim Rights Week, but before we do that, I did want to ask you a little bit, because done a lot with kind of a focus on women children, and I know there’s really a focus to try to figure out how to keep our children safe. And I know you did a first of its kind in Solano County, a active shooter forum or a community event to try and help people understand how to keep kids safe. So can you talk a little bit about, I mean, I’ve also talked to you about fentanyl awareness and I mean, it just breaks my heart some of the things that are happening. And so can you talk a little bit about how we might create more safety when it comes to our kids as we send them to school and

Krishna Abrams:  Yes. So one of the things I find really, really important about this job is how can we try to make a difference in people’s lives? And when I was a young prosecutor, we were just reactionary. Prosecutors were, somebody committed a crime, we’re in court, and now we’ve got to throw the book at you. And what I saw over and over trying a lot of homicides, you had a young boy’s family ruined because their son is gone, right? Was killed. Then you have another young boy’s family that’s devastated because their son is now incarcerated for this killing. And I saw, I’ve tried so many cases involving young males, and I’m walking in the courtroom and I’m seeing two sides of the courtroom with devastated families and how something so small turns into something so permanent and is just devastated so many people. And so I really try to get into the schools to talk about, we don’t want our youth in the criminal justice system because my experience has been once you get in and you stay in and you stay around the same people that are in, it’s very, very hard to get out.

And so everything now, I feel like we’ve gone from reactionary prosecutors to let’s be proactive. What can we do out in the community to say, Hey, this isn’t the lifestyle you want to live. This isn’t the way you want to go down this road. So I really try to get in with the schools. That’s why we do the Kindness campaign, the anti-bullying campaign. We try to get into, we have the prosecutor for the day where we bring in people from the community and students to hear what we do, what it means to go through the system and to try to get our youth to show them there’s opportunity for them and they have value and they don’t need to go down this other path. So I am really excited about the fentanyl awareness training and program that we’re doing in the schools right now because I’m watching all the students out there and we’re not preaching to them, but we’re there because we care, because we’ve seen way too many fentanyl poisonings in our community amongst our youth, and they don’t even know what they’re taking.

They think they’re taking a Percocet or a Xanax, and we know too many people that have lost their lives to fentanyl. And so watching these students kind of glued to us and engaged and asking all these great questions, and to me the best advice isn’t from me. Their parents, police, fire. It’s from students to students. So we share this with students and students share that with other students. That’s who they really care about. You care about your best friends in high school. So if we can prevent another loss of life based upon what we’re doing, I feel like it’s a complete success. So I feel like we’re trying to do so much more out in the community than just prosecuting cases. We’re trying to get out there in domestic violence awareness, sexual assault awareness, human trafficking awareness, the fentanyl awareness officer involved shootings really try to get out into the community and that, hey, we’re not just people who are trying to throw books at people in court every day. We’re trying to actually make a positive difference in your life.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, that’s a lot though. I mean, as a da, it’s like you’re spending what nights and weekends or something doing all of these things while you’re prosecuting cases. So it’s really a lifestyle that you have to kind of get in there. Can you talk a little bit about maybe some of the inequities that you see and how you are using your influence to address some of those?

Krishna Abrams:  Yes. I mean, I definitely feel like we really try to get out into the community. I will say I just recently was invited to the prison last year. They asked me to be the guest speaker, and it was 17 lifers that are all in prison for murder that are part of this drug rehab program. And they wanted me to guest be the guest speaker. And I thought, this is odd that you want me, the district attorney. So anyway, but it went really well. And so they invited me this year, I think it was a couple weeks ago, where they’ve made all this art and they sent me handwritten letters asking me to come, and they wanted me to hear their stories, hear what they’re doing in prison. And so I went and I was not supposed to go. My son was home for spring break and I said, no, my word is my bond.

I said, I need to go. So I went and all of these inmates came up to me, were thanking me here. They’re in prison for murder for Life. They’re thanking me for the job that I’ve done. They’re telling me all the different things that they’re doing that are positive in prison. And I think it was really it good for me to hear because they were acknowledging what they did was wrong. They were acknowledging their remorse and it felt very sincere. And then all the different ways that they’re working on themselves. So it, it’s good. I feel like it’s multifaceted my job, what I’m doing, because I fight for victims. I’m very victim centric, but yet I’m also at the prison and hearing from those that we’ve prosecuted. So I feel like once I left the prison this last week, I got four long, long letters from these inmates thanking me for the job that we do, the work that we do, and how anything that they can do, if they can help out, even if they’re incarcerated, to speak to youth, to not engage in the kind of behavior they did. I’m like, they’re making some great advancements. So I do, I feel like we do a lot.

Melyssa Barrett:  So then in terms of the just restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration, there’s a lot of advocacy for restorative justice practices. And so what’s your perspective on that in terms of, especially when it comes to alternatives to incarceration?

Krishna Abrams:  I’m very proud to say that we started the very first restorative justice program in Solano County in 2017 called Neighborhood Court. We modeled it after, somewhat after Yolo County and San Francisco. They each had kind of a different flavor of it, but I went to a lot of their meetings to see what they were doing. And so on low level offenses, we do that so that we say somebody’s arrested for a very low level offense, a misdemeanor, they could opt to go to neighborhood court and we wouldn’t file the charges. So they wouldn’t go through the traditional court system. And then they would go through this restorative justice program where you meet with community members that are volunteers and they work together to come up with a solution. So the idea is that they’re all vested, right? They’re all invested in the joint solution. Hey, here’s the problem.

This is what it caused to the community. How can we better it? And you feel like if they’re all working together that hopefully that person will no longer want to re-offend. So we’ve been doing it. We started it in Venetia, the city of Venetia, then Vacaville got on board, now, Fairfield’s on board. We just are starting it in Dixon. So we’re trying to have it countywide. And so we’ve tried to do a balance of go after the very serious offenses, murder, rape, robbery, but on low level offenses, try to have a restorative justice program to hope that we don’t have repeat offenders.

Melyssa Barrett:  Right. No. And when you say low level, what are those types of

Krishna Abrams:  Misdemeanors? Like? Vandalism, a petty theft. It could be a neighbor dispute, things that aren’t rising to the level of something serious of a felony. Yeah,

Melyssa Barrett:  Okay. Interesting. Neighborhood court. I’m sure we’re going to see that on TV sometime. Right? So talk to me about the Victim rights week.

Krishna Abrams:  Yes. So that is coming up, it’s the week this year, I believe, of April 21st through the 27th. And every year we do a program on one day. I think we’re doing it on April 25th, where we really just want to stop and reflect and think about all those who have been lost to violence and all those that have been harmed by crime. We’re a very, very victim centric office. I think it’s really, really important that victims’ voices are always heard, not only in our office for what they want, because a lot of times they want something different out of the case than we want. What we think is justice may not be justice for them because say a domestic violence victim wants to stay with her partner, and we think it’s best that he be convicted so that he can be held accountable so that he can get the treatment that he needs so that he won’t hit her again.

But women will stay with, and it’s men and women, but majority is women. And so they will stay with their significant other for a whole host of reasons and legitimate reasons. And we still need to honor what they feel and what they want. And so I think it’s important their voices are heard by the prosecutor at our office, but also in the court system that their voices are always heard. So I feel like victims’ rights week is really a time that we say, listen, we stop, we reflect and we shine the light on victims, their bravery, their courage to have to go through the system. Little sexual assault victims, child molestation victims that have to come in and tell their story. I will say I prosecuted sexual assault cases for about eight years, tried a lot of cases, and there was nothing more empowering than when you believed the child and the child testified as scared as they were. And then they’d come up to me afterwards and go, thank you so much for being the one person who believed in me. And just being able to share their story, being able to know that they are heard and believed is so empowering to these victims.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, and I know you also do, you hosted a fraud fair as well as human trafficking. So I mean these range in ages, the crimes that you’re dealing with, some of them being highly offensive and then some of them being lower level as you call it. When we’re talking about victims and victim’s rights week, do you highlight specific components? Do people get to tell their stories? What happens during that week?

Krishna Abrams:  We always invite a few speakers. We try to have it cases where they’re not pending. So the cases that have been adjudicated, but last year we had really powerful speakers come and speak the variety victim of sexual assault, and then a couple of moms who lost their son to murder, and they tell their story and tell kind of their story about walking through the justice system. And to me, it’s so important that we have good bedside manner and that we walk these victims and survivors through the criminal justice system because it’s pretty scary and they’ve already had something that’s hugely traumatic. So I want to make sure that we’re always keeping them informed, keeping them noticed, making sure that they’re allowed to speak, making sure they’re allowed to be heard, walking them through the process. Because in a lot of these cases, it can take an extensive period of time. Sometimes a murder case or a sexual assault case can take years in the criminal justice system. So it’s really, really important that we hold their hand through the process and so that they know that they’re supported, they know their belief, that they know that there’s resources available out there for them.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. Wow, that’s amazing. So then in terms of, because I think you had mentioned to me some of the serious crimes, and I want to say, you mentioned Marcy’s Law and kind of what people, and I know you do cases with people from all sorts of backgrounds, but are there some specific recommendations, thoughts that you can provide that will help either parents with their children or children who may be listening to say, how can we do the right thing every day? Especially as it pertains to those victims that become impacted by something that may be relatively minor from somebody that’s managing their day? It’s like things get blown out of control, and then all of a sudden you have all these victims that are impacted.

Krishna Abrams:  I’ve always been a firm believer in communication is so key. And so we all know our teenagers don’t tell our parents everything. And so it’s so important, especially our youth, whatever’s going on with them, that they have somebody that they can talk to, whether it’s a coach, whether it’s a teacher, whether it’s a neighbor, you know what I mean? Whether it’s a best friend. But I always try to tell people that if you see something, that you say something because that’s the most important thing is number one, be an ear to listen to somebody who’s confiding in you about some type of a problem. And if it’s something that’s serious that you tell someone, right? And so I always am wanting to tell people, it’s so important to share your story because the more you share your story, somebody else has a story just like yours.

So I coached on the Girls on the Run program, which is third to fifth graders, and they learn life skills. It’s a 10 week program, and they learn life skills, but they also run, they do some running. So by the end of the program, they run a 5K and it’s phenomenal. And so at the end of the race, they have all these different professionals that are women that they get to come up and ask them questions. Well, I always was like, I want to ask the little kids questions. What do you want to be? Because you can be whatever you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you you. And so what I liked about that program is that it was teaching, but also that share whatever’s going on. And I can’t tell you just running laps with these little kids. They would start confiding in me about stuff that I thought they should never have to go through.

One girl is telling me how she’d call her best friend. They were both nine and how the dad was beating the mom, and she didn’t know who to talk to. So she’s calling her cousin, who was her best friend, who’s another 9-year-old. I mean, it brings tears to your eyes, like, oh my gosh, that you’re living in this environment. So little things that you can hear. So it’s so important that people that are going through, I don’t care what age you are, if you’re going through something that you are able to tell someone, and that person will tell the right people because it needs to come to light so that you don’t continue to be victimized. So the power of telling your story, I do think is huge because I watch with so many victims in our community, somebody else has the exact same story as you.

And if you can make a difference in another person’s life, for instance, somebody doesn’t want to leave an abusive situation, but you have somebody else tell that story, listen, you have value, you don’t deserve this. And so knowing that they have support, they have the resources, and somebody else has gone through it as well, that they can get out of that abusive situation. I mean, that’s really what we want. So it’s really like victims’ rights weeks. It’s recognizing and reflecting, but also bringing them together and networking as well, because that they’re not alone, which is I think what’s really important. Yeah,

Melyssa Barrett:  Definitely. Well, and we can’t under score communication enough. I think that’s kind of where everything seems to go wrong. It’s like people’s interpretation, whatever, but we all live with different lenses as well. So building trust is really significant. So I wonder, do you have any examples? Maybe you can talk about where maybe there’s initiatives that your office has undertaken to engage with communities, whether they be diverse communities, to really foster trust. You’ve been doing it a while now.

Krishna Abrams:  I feel like we, so I have a community prosecutor, Matt Olson and I, we try to go to as many community events as possible, and we have a very, very diverse community. From Dixon to Vallejo to Benicia to Rio Vista, it’s extremely diverse. And we really participate in all kinds of community events. And what I think is really important is people always say when you have that challenging case where maybe the public is upset, that’s not the time to go out and be with the community and try to build that trust. You better already have that trust with your community. So I think it’s really important. We are always out in the community. We have a huge Filipino population. We have a huge black population. We have a huge Hispanic population, Indian population, you name it. We’re extremely diverse in Solano County, and it’s fantastic.

And I mean, diversity is what makes us so strong. And so we love to participate in all the different activities going out throughout the community. So we stay pretty busy because besides the stuff that we put on, like we said, the awareness, the awareness, the fraud fair, the health fair, all those kinds of things, we also are out engaging in their events, which I think throughout the community, the community events, which I think is so important because they see you as, Hey, you come, you support, you don’t just show up once a year, you’re here. And that, I think helps gain the trust. And I would say the biggest thing is I got a really great piece of advice from the former DA judge na, he became a judge, but he told me, always be accessible when you become the district attorney. And he said, I was always accessible.

So I have an open door policy with my office, with law enforcement, with every member of the community. I don’t care who you are, what you have, what your gripe is, I’ll meet with you and we will hear each other out. We may end up agreeing to disagree. We may not. A lot of times people will come to me and complain about a resolution that happened on a case like five years ago, which I obviously can’t change, but I want to hear because I want to see how can we do things better. I always feel like we’re a work in progress, always. And so I think having an open door policy to anybody that can come with anything from the community, my dad’s always like, your door’s a little too open. But I said, no, it’s really, really important. And so I think that that is huge, a relationship, a builder with the community.

In fact, I’ll just give you an example. I’ll give you an example. There was an elected official who put out something on social media a few years ago and was praising Dyna Becton, which was the DA in Contra Costa saying she’s dismissing all these marijuana convictions. And then it said, Christian Abrams is a confederate and she’s just trying to send black and brown people to prison. And I was like, what? So there was a new initiative out that we all had, the das had to dismiss all these old marijuana convictions once it became legal, but we weren’t blasting it out there. We were just doing the job. So I emailed him and said, your words are very offensive to the hard men and women working in my office. I’m happy to sit down with you and tell you what we do at the district attorney’s office.

And so we scheduled a meeting, we met for two hours, and he was like, wow, I didn’t know that this is all this stuff that you do here. And I go, right. And he goes, I will never put something out like that again without talking to you. And I thought that was a good moment, but at the time I was thinking, you don’t even know me. Why would you say these things about me? Right. But it was great to have the conversation. So then I reached out and now we have great communication. So I think communication is key to everything.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, definitely. We really do. I can’t let you get away without talking a little bit about transparency and accountability, because I know it is critical for your offices to really kind of focus on the decision-making processes that you all go through, whether it be incorporating data, which I’m sure you do, and reporting and all of those things. So how do you ensure accountability

Krishna Abrams:  In terms of people committing crimes or,

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, I mean, even in when I think a lot about just kind of instances of misconduct or injustice, maybe even within the prosecutor’s office or law enforcement,

Krishna Abrams:  If there was somebody that did something inappropriate in our office, they would be gone, right? We don’t tolerate anything like that. So I feel, and then in terms of our job as cases that come in, we do an independent review of what should be done independent of the police agency. And like I said earlier, if it’s a report on a police officer, which we have some right now, we’re going to make the same filing decision and use the same criteria that we would, whether you’re a police officer or not. That is our job. So we make sure that we want, that’s one of our things is like victims have a voice, making sure offenders are held accountable and do our job ethically. That’s our three pillars from my office. And so that’s what we always want is that, and I always tell people, we just want somebody to be accountable. Now. We don’t want to throw the book at somebody. If it’s a misdemeanor, then the sentence should be proportionate to what they did. What, I’m in a jury trial, I’m like, I don’t want you to do anything more or less to this person other than what should happen.

So we always want people to be held accountable and it to be proportional. So we do also have, we have the ability as a prosecutor to bring a case back. Say somebody’s been serving a time and sentence in prison for a long time. We had the opportunity if we wanted to bring it back and have them resentenced. Well, there was a pretty controversial case where a defense attorney wanted me to take a look at a case, and the person was serving time for very, very serious offense. But I kept working with the family and the inmate, and I thought it was in the best interest to have him released from prison so that he’d served enough time. So I did do that. So I feel like we really try to look at every case individually, which is very, very important, and to do the right thing on every single case because no cases are the exact same.

And it’s very important that every case gets the right attention. That’s what I always tell people. These aren’t just files. These are people we’re dealing with. And every decision we make is affecting people, whether it’s the victim, whether it’s the defendant, whether it’s the defendant’s family, the victim’s family. So we always want to get it right. I will say, I just want to talk really big. I know you brought it up earlier and you talked about accountability is when you talked about the officer involved fatalities. One thing I do want to, I’m pretty proud of, which is when I first was elected in 2014, I really wanted officer involved fatalities to be independently investigated. Because when there’s a perception that you are investigating your own, you’re interviewing your own, that you’re not going to be unbiased. And so I kind of brought it to the group of all the police chiefs at the time, but I was just the new girl at table, and it was like, this isn’t happening.

So it’s taken, it took up to, from 2014 to six years, 2020, I worked on it daily to try to get an independent task force to conduct the investigations in these fatalities so that they were unbiased, they were conflict free, they were transparent, right? They were thorough, and that they were under the district attorney’s office and not the agency who was involved in the shooting. And we got all the police chiefs and the sheriff to sign off on it. And we now have this task force as of November of 2020. And I feel like it’s been very successful. I think it’s successful for the officer, the agency, and most importantly the public, because we have to have the public’s trust in the work that we do. And I feel like this is a huge, tremendous step towards making sure that the public trusts our decisions in these cases.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s fantastic. And I think a lot of times people don’t realize that just creating that independence is huge in creating trust. Huge. And so just any perception of conflict of interest, it kind of eliminates all of those things so that you actually end up with the trust you need going forward. So kudos to you for all of the work you in your office is doing to really engage the community and really make a difference in your county. I mean, it’s incredible. I’m so glad to see there’s so much effort that you all are taking in the county. I feel like maybe I need to move over there at some point. I’m not that far away. So what’s next for you? I mean, I know there’s campaigns and all of those things. What’s next for you?

Krishna Abrams:  No, I’m good. I just got reelected in 2022 for my third term, so I’m just going to try to keep doing the good work here. I was just on the phone with my mom this morning, and I said, the day you feel like you’re phoning it in is the day you should not have this job. So as long as I continue to feel like I’m making a contribution and making a difference, I will continue to do this good work that we’re doing.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, thank you so much again for all you do, and I’m so glad that I got to spend this brief period of time with you uncovering all of those things that you’re doing. And I do hope that we will stay in touch. I would like to have you come back and talk a little more in depth on a few items, but I just thank you so much.

Krishna Abrams:  Thank you for having me. I really, really appreciate it. Such a pleasure to meet you.

Melyssa Barrett:  It is such a pleasure to meet you. And I just want to say give a shout out to Serena because she does a lot of work in the background, but I just love and appreciate her, so I’m so glad she introduced us.

Krishna Abrams:  I love Serena. Love, love, love Serena. Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. You moved

Krishna Abrams:  To Ireland, my country.

Melyssa Barrett:  She’s loving it over there, for sure.

Krishna Abrams:  Yes. I’ll see you in touch.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes, for sure. You’re not that far away. I was just in Fairfield not that long ago.

Krishna Abrams:  Okay. Well always swing by. Yes, in Fairfield. Swing by.

Melyssa Barrett:  Alright, will do. Okay. Thank you so much. Alright. Alright. Talk to you later. You too. Bye-Bye. Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.