I moved to New Orleans over a decade ago to start my career at the Orleans Public Defenders Office, and I fell in love with the people, the culture and the food. New Orleans has forever changed who I am as a person and advocate. The city has taught me the beauty of improvisation and resilience. It also exposed me to the harsh realities of the criminal court system. My love and passion for New Orleans drives my decision to run for Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge-Section L.

As a public defender and civil rights lawyer, I have witnessed the ugly and often destructive side of the criminal court system. I have watched those in power carelessly disregard the humanity of individuals simply because they were given the label “criminal.” I believe it is time for us to reimagine a system rooted in rehabilitation, not mass incarceration.

Here’s what I plan to bring to the bench:

Equal Access to Justice

Every individual who comes before the court should have equal access to justice regardless of race, gender, class, religion, or sexual orientation. Every person should be given the opportunity to stand before a judge who is impartial and fair. Implicit biases and disparities have no place in the criminal justice system.

Alternatives to Incarceration

Many who enter the criminal court system often deal with mental illness, substance use disorders, live in poverty and/or homelessness. The absence of preventative services, neglect of appropriate support, and lack of treatment creates a threat to public safety. Providing alternatives to incarceration reduce prison and jail costs and prevent additional crimes in the future.

Stop Criminalization of Poverty

Through the use of money bail and exorbitant fines and fees, our criminal justice system often creates a cycle of poverty producing harsher outcomes for indigent defendants and disproportionately impacting communities of color. We cannot say we are acting in the best interest for the people of New Orleans when we have a system of “justice” that preys on the impoverished.