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Guest opinion

Shea: We need a tested prosecutor & committed reformer as the next Pima County attorney

I have never previously had published an opinion endorsing any candidate for elective office, anywhere. Today, however, I write to state why I will be voting for Jonathan Mosher for Pima County attorney in the August 4 Democratic primary and to ask that you do so as well. Let me explain why.

I am a professor of practice at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law, where I have taught criminal law courses for the last 10 years. Prior to my wife Chris and I moving to Tucson, I served as a federal prosecutor in Minnesota for 20 years. For the last 15 years, I also have worked with more than two dozen former offenders, some of whom I prosecuted, helping them use their second chance to regain their self-worth by educating students about the consequences and lessons to be learned from their misconduct.

My most popular law school course has been Crime and Punishment, which I have taught nine times at UA. It focuses on how to evaluate and reform our criminal justice system. Guest speakers have included judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, probation officers, victim advocates, and former offenders. They constitute the heart of the course and provide candid input on how to improve our justice system. We have tackled the most vexing criminal justice issue of our time – how to deal with and hold accountable those who break our laws.

This has included addressing the injustice and costs of mass incarceration, the prevalence and dangers of racial injustice and recidivism, and the need for much greater rehabilitation and restorative justice efforts.

The focus of my course has always been how to both protect public safety and reform how we punish offenders, all while achieving justice for all. After many meetings and conversations with Jonathan Mosher during the last 18 months, I have concluded that Jonathan genuinely seeks and is the most qualified person to bring about many of the same reforms that I have been teaching in my Crime and Punishment courses. Here are some specific examples:

Jonathan Mosher has a well-established track record of prosecuting and holding accountable the most dangerous and violent offenders in our county, particularly those who harm children and other vulnerable persons. Go to Mosher2020.com to read about some of his cases. But what is not as widely known is the work that Jonathan has undertaken to serve and assist the victims of crime. You probably do not realize that the Pima County Attorney Office's victim advocacy work has been a pioneering leader for the nation. Jonathan is committed to continuing and expanding that critical work.

Jonathan also will improve the criminal justice system through innovation and intelligent reform. As county attorney, he pledges to expand drug diversion and treatment programs, and end cash bail. He will halt use of the death penalty, which has been applied too arbitrarily and ineffectively. He will seek to expand restorative justice programs in both schools and the courts, building upon the county's well-deserved reputation as a national leader.

One final thought: In these challenging times, we have seen the danger of electing an unqualified leader. One of Jonathan's opponents has no experience as a prosecutor or handling any of the many functions of the County Attorney's Office. We cannot afford to elect any more unqualified, untested candidates. We need our next county attorney to be someone who has the knowledge and experience to do the job immediately. Jonathan Mosher is a tested prosecutor, experienced manager, and committed reformer. That is why he deserves your vote.

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