D.A. Q & A
The Swarthmorean asked five questions of the major party candidates for District Attorney in the November 5 general election. Responses from the Republican incumbent Katayoun Copeland have been promised; we hope to run them next week.
Jack Stollsteimer - Democrat
1. What is your position on changes in the future operation of George W. Hill correctional facility?
Answer: I support and have been a vocal advocate for the deprivatization of the George Hill Correctional Facility and the return of our county jail to public management. Delco’s county jail is the only private prison in Pennsylvania and has been a substandard facility for too long. By running this facility ourselves we can reinvest the profit paid to the private contractor in better drug treatment and reentry programs to ensure safer communities.
2. Do you favor any changes to the current cash bail system in use in Pennsylvania?
Answer: In 2016, 27% of the people admitted to our county jail were held solely because of their inability to post cash bail. Incarcerating people presumed innocent simply because they are too poor to afford bail is certainly immoral and perhaps unconstitutional. As District Attorney, I will work with County Council and the Board of Judges to reform our county’s bail system by: (1) waiving or reducing the 40% county administrative fee which acts as an incentive to require secured cash bail; and (2) requiring a bail hearing with counsel for every person who does not post bail with 72 hours of arrest.
3. What tools should the DA’s office use to protect seniors from crime?
Answer: Not backscratchers and stress balls advertising the name of the District Attorney. My opponent, the appointed DA, has spent more than $75,000 of county funds to purchase these trinkets as a tool to win an election. I would reinvest those funds into a proactive investigative unit to track down and prosecute criminals who prey on seniors before they can rack up more victims.
4. Do you favor any restrictions on use or ownership of, or controls on access to firearms?
Answer: As a federal prosecutor I worked every day to make communities safer by enforcing the reasonable restrictions on the use or possession of firearms in federal law. It’s clear from the continued mass shootings around the country, and the more than 80 shootings this year in Delco, that law enforcement needs more tools to address this public health epidemic. I support the banning of assault weapons and high capacity ammo clips; universal background checks; reporting requirements for lost and stolen firearms; and Extreme-Risk Protection Orders or “Red Flag” laws to better protect our communities from senseless gun violence.
5. Would you support decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use?
Answer: Yes. Aggressive enforcement of small amounts of marijuana offenses is expensive to enforce and takes law enforcement resources away from investigating and prosecuting more serious crimes. A recent national report found that in 2015 arrests for marijuana possession outnumbered arrests for all violent crimes combined.
The criminalization of the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana also disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. In 2017 Delaware County’s African American population was 22%, yet African Americans accounted for 59% of the 1,110 arrests made for marijuana possession in Delaware County that year.