HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jacquie Esser says her experience in the criminal justice system as a public defender gives her a fresh perspective on what it would take to bring real change to law enforcement in Hawaii.
A proponent of ending cash bail and increasing mental health resources for offenders, Esser stops by the kitchen for a cup of coffee with Mahealani Richardson to talk about her candidacy.
Here are some of the questions she took on in our interview:
- Why jump into the race for Honolulu Prosecutor?
Well, I’ve been a public defender for more than a decade, and I’ve seen that our criminal justice system is just not working. It’s counterproductive, it’s ineffective, it’s often times unjust. We’re wasting money, we’re destroying lives, and it’s not making us any safer.
We have to rethink the office of the prosecutor. We have to rethink policing, rethink corrections, and I believe that my background as a public defender will allow us to create a new system of justice.
- Many people have lost faith in the office because of the Kealoha scandal. What would you do to restore trust in this office?
Restoring trust is essential. It’s very important. But this election and this campaign is so much more than about reassuring trust. We want to make the office transparent and accountable. By that I mean our policies will be online, and moving forward, in thinking about how we want to transition the office, I’ve been putting bold policy statements online.
The current prosecutor’s office operates in a black box. The public doesn’t know what’s going on. We need to change that.
- Your campaign is ‘feeling the Bern.' You were endorsed by Bernie Sanders; talk about that endorsement.
It was huge. I am still just so honored and thrilled by it. I didn’t know it was coming. When it did come, I got a call, he posted it on his social media. As far criminal justice reform, he understands what mass incarceration is doing to our communities and generations for lifetimes. We believe the same, that our criminal justice system takes fundamental reform.