Exploring the Role of a District Attorney with William Wagstaff

11m | Jun 12, 2024

In this captivating clip of Market Mondays, hosts Ian Dunlap and Troy Millings sit down with William Wagstaff, a civil rights attorney striving to become the district attorney. By highlighting his deep personal experiences and robust understanding of the justice system, Wagstaff provides a vivid picture of what it means to hold this critical position, particularly within black and brown communities.

*Time Stamps:*

*[00:00]* - Introduction: Transformative Insights from Mount Vernon's Own

Troy Millings introduces William Wagstaff, speaking to his impressive journey from being formerly justice-involved to an NBA civil rights attorney and now running for district attorney. Wagstaff's unique perspective offers valuable insights for viewers from all walks of life.

*[00:19]* - What Does a District Attorney Do?

Wagstaff demystifies the role of a district attorney, shedding light on the multitude of responsibilities such as deciding who gets charged with crimes, recommending sentences during plea deals, and advocating for or against bail. His description underscores the crucial influence a district attorney possesses in shaping fair and just legal outcomes.

*[02:30]* - Addressing Systemic Issues in the Justice System

Through a compelling argument, Wagstaff explains how historically, district attorneys have often overlooked the socio-economic drivers of crime. He posits that addressing these fundamental issues—such as lack of educational and financial opportunities, broken homes, and gang involvement—can lead to a more equitable justice system without compromising safety.

*[04:13]* - The Need for Comprehensive Social Services

William emphasizes the necessity of viewing social issues like drug addiction, mental health, and the opioid crisis as public safety concerns. He argues that re-investing in underserved communities could reduce crime rates and recidivism, offering a long-term solution to many systemic problems.

*[05:16]* - Political and Financial Incentives for Incarceration: A Call for Advocacy

Wagstaff discusses the financial incentives that fuel mass incarceration and urges district attorneys to advocate for best practices. He stresses the importance of the electorate demanding intentional investment in youth programs, mental health services, and drug rehabilitation to create a safe and just society.

*[07:44]* - Holding Police Accountable

Highlighting his role as a special prosecutor for police discipline in Mount Vernon, Wagstaff advocates for independent oversight to ensure accountability within police forces. He argues for the establishment of an independently elected Inspector General to monitor police misconduct, thereby removing internal biases and relational interference.

*[10:16]* - Professional Licensing for Police Officers

In a striking proposition, Wagstaff suggests that police officers should be required to hold a professional license, similar to real estate agents or medical professionals. This licensing would include individual malpractice insurance, adding a financial incentive for officers to maintain good conduct, thus ensuring accountability and ethical behavior in law enforcement.

Join us for this enlightening episode of Market Mondays as William Wagstaff outlines a comprehensive vision for transforming the justice system. From prosecutorial discretion to police accountability, Wagstaff’s insights make a compelling case for systemic change and community-focused justice.

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