On the Issues

Pete hardin

On the Issues

Pete Hardin is a community leader who will modernize Orange County’s criminal justice system to promote public safety, empower victims and survivors, end mass incarceration, and cease wasteful spending that drains taxpayer dollars. Explore the topics below to learn about Pete’s vision for a more equitable and efficient Orange County.

Preventing Sexual Assault and Ensuring Justice for Survivors

Sexual assaults are grossly underreported in Orange County.  Regardless of whether they choose to report, survivors of sexual assault deserve our community’s full support. As District Attorney, I will work with law enforcement, schools, universities, and community-based organizations to increase awareness of and access to support services to ensure that survivors get the care they need as soon as possible.

When sexual assaults are reported, survivors in our community are all too often unsupported and left alone to navigate a byzantine system in their most vulnerable moments.  As District Attorney, I will enhance office training and education on effective communication with survivors of sexual assault.  I will work with law enforcement and survivor support groups to empower survivors and ensure their safety and support throughout the criminal justice system.  I am committed to testing every single rape kit, ensuring survivors are never coerced to testify to receive victims’ services, and building a network of advocates to support survivors during all criminal proceedings. To ensure the safety of and justice for our most precious and vulnerable community members – our children – I will strengthen training and increase resources for a dedicated unit to prosecute child sexual assault crimes. 

I am committed to stopping sexual harassment and assault before it occurs, and I will work with Orange County’s Universities to enhance public education for college students about the growing threat of campus sex assault.  Furthermore, I will initiate an alliance between the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and bars/restaurants to implement a bystander intervention program to keep staff and patrons safe from predatory behavior, harassment, and sexual assault.

Tackling Domestic Abuse

I am committed to stopping and prosecuting crimes that disproportionately impact women and children, including domestic violence and child abuse. As District Attorney, I will institute an anti-domestic violence task force to create coordination between law enforcement, schools, and community service providers. Furthermore, I will enforce gun safety laws and ensure that firearms are removed from domestic abusers.  

I am committed to stopping and prosecuting crimes that disproportionately impact women and children, including domestic violence, which has skyrocketed in Orange County over the past two years. More than one in four Orange County women have suffered violence at the hands of their partner. More than a third of domestic violence emergency 9-1-1 calls are made by children. We must do better. I am committed to increasing awareness of and access to support services to ensure that victims of domestic abuse find safety and support as soon as possible. I will institute an anti-domestic violence task force to create coordination between law enforcement, schools, and community service providers. Furthermore, I will enforce gun safety laws and ensure that firearms are removed from domestic abusers.  

Advocating for Survivors and Enhancing the Services We Provide Victims

As a prosecutor, I saw how survivors are often re-victimized by a system that prioritizes punishment over healing, support, and rehabilitation. As District Attorney, I will work to support victims of crime regardless of their case outcome by contacting all victims within 24 hours of receiving notification, assigning every victim a dedicated support advocate, and launching an innovative Family Justice Center to connect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and child abuse to services they need to heal and pursue justice.

As a prosecutor, I saw how survivors are often re-victimized by a system that prioritizes punishment over healing, support, and rehabilitation. The current District Attorney forces victims to navigate a byzantine system of disconnected support services across multiple locations. It is time to end this administration’s disingenuous justification of retrograde policies in the name of victims and to acknowledge that such policies are disfavored by the vast majority of the survivor community.

As District Attorney, I will work to support victims of crime regardless of their case outcome. My office will contact all victims of violent crime within 24 hours of receiving notification. Victims will be assigned a dedicated support advocate, and I will listen to the survivor community in order to ensure the policies of my office are victim and trauma-informed.

I will launch an innovative Family Justice Center to provide assistance and hope to victims and their families. This one-stop community service center will connect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and child abuse to the services they need to heal and pursue justice, including counselors, therapists, daycare, employment services, and more.

Addressing the Underlying Issues – Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Addiction, PTSD, and Homelessness

To break the revolving door of the criminal justice system, we must address the underlying issues that lead to offending behavior and drive homelessness. As District Attorney, I will increase and expand eligibility for diversion programs and collaborative courts that focus on providing mental health treatment, drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation, job training, and housing placement to break cycles of incarceration and heal our communities.

The current administration punishes the same set of defendants time and time again expecting a different result – Einstein’s very definition of insanity. This type of revolving door criminal justice system makes our communities more dangerous by creating and perpetuating cycles of violence, poverty, and broken communities and worsening our mass incarceration and homelessness problems.

In order to break this revolving door of the criminal justice system, we must address the underlying issues that lead to arrest. Aberrant behavior is often a symptom of issues that affect so many of us and our neighbors: mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress, homelessness, and food insecurity. The current administration fails to tackle the root causes of crime. Rather, it criminalizes low-level behavior and traps people in its revolving door criminal justice system leading from the streets to the courthouse, to the prison, and back to the streets without providing tools to successfully reintegrate into society in a positive and productive way. This dysfunction not only undermines public safety, but it also needlessly wastes taxpayer money.

As District Attorney, I will increase and expand eligibility for diversion programs and collaborative courts that focus on providing mental health treatment, drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation, job training, and housing placement to break cycles of incarceration and heal our communities; I will expunge or seek sentencing reductions for past convictions that would be treated differently today; I will promote public health models as a starting point for developing responses to individuals in crisis and support community-based services to stabilize at-risk people who otherwise end up in jail; and I will support the development and implementation of crisis-intervention training for law enforcement to de-escalate situations involving mentally ill individuals and reduce use of force and arrest as a response. 

Ending the Death Penalty

As District Attorney, I will punish the most heinous capital murders with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. I will not pursue the death penalty.

As District Attorney, I will punish the most heinous murders with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. I will not pursue the death penalty.

The death penalty in California is irrevocably broken. There are more than 700 inmates on death row in California. And there have been only 13 executions since capital punishment was reinstated in California in 1978, the last more than 15 years ago. 

The costs of maintaining the death penalty are staggering, far exceeding the cost of life imprisonment.  Over five billion California taxpayer dollars have been spent supporting the death penalty.  These costs result from the lengthy jury trials and  extensive appellate review process — in both state and federal court — plus the additional costs to house inmates away from the general population.

The emotional toll of the pursuit of the death penalty on surviving victims is devastating.  They are denied the ability to grieve the loss of their loved ones in peace, with confidence that the person responsible for the death of their loved one is locked up for life.  Instead, they endure decades of appeals and court process. Surviving victims are robbed of finality, and there is virtually zero chance that a death sentence will ever be carried out. As former DA Bonnie Dumanis has said, the death penalty is a “hollow promise” to victims. I believe victims deserve better.  

Elected officials must be smart on crime and lead with integrity. Honest prosecutors acknowledge that our state’s death penalty is beyond repair.

Supporting and Holding Law Enforcement Accountable

As a Marine Corps officer and judge advocate, I witnessed how a small fraction of America’s best men and women can undermine the integrity of an otherwise outstanding organization. As a state and federal prosecutor, I saw the same with respect to law enforcement departments and agencies. As District Attorney, I will work to rebuild trust between our communities and law enforcement departments, which is essential for the safety of our citizens and officers alike. I will celebrate the heroic work that most officers do to serve and protect our communities, and will have the courage and integrity to hold fully accountable those officers who break the law.    

Ending Cash Bail

Cash bail is unnecessary and unfair. As District Attorney, I will work to end cash bail in Orange County and promote a future of equal justice for all our citizens.

The current money bail system allows defendants who are rich and dangerous to buy their freedom while poor defendants who pose no risk to public safety languish behind bars. Even short stints behind bars lead to employment and housing instability which in turn exacerbates homelessness in our community. Many cities throughout the United States and right here in Orange County have successfully replaced cash bail with supervised release programs and safety-based pretrial detention. I will work to end cash bail in Orange County and promote a future of equal justice for all our citizens.

Making Environmental Justice a Public Priority

As District Attorney, I will fight for a safe, clean, and healthy Orange County. I will establish an environmental crimes task force to investigate and prosecute environmental offenses, and under my leadership, the Orange County District Attorney’s office will collaborate with regional partners to hold toxic polluters accountable. I will make the District Attorney’s office accessible for reporting environmental concerns and will raise environmental justice as a public priority. 

As District Attorney, I will fight for a safe, clean, and healthy Orange County. The current administration has been virtually absent on environmental prosecution. Ignoring environmental crimes adversely impacts the health and safety of Orange County communities. I will establish an environmental crimes task force to investigate and prosecute environmental offenses, and under my leadership, the Orange County District Attorney’s office will collaborate with regional partners to hold toxic polluters accountable. I will make the District Attorney’s office accessible for reporting environmental concerns and will raise environmental justice as a public priority.

Tackling Public Corruption

For our communities and county to succeed, we must rely on fair and transparent governance. As District Attorney, I will be a fierce advocate for our communities by rooting out and prosecuting public corruption, protecting whistleblowers, and enforcing existing transparency laws.

For our communities and county to succeed, we must rely on fair and transparent governance. Our current District Attorney, a lifelong politician who has hopscotched from one position to another, refuses to investigate and prosecute the pay-for-pay type of corruption for which he has developed a reputation. I’m not a politician, I’m a former Marine Corps officer and a prosecutor. As District Attorney, I will serve Orange County as a political outsider who is beholden to no one. I will be a fierce advocate for our communities by rooting out and prosecuting public corruption and instituting changes to ensure full transparency in contract award processes and government spending practices and better protections for whistleblowers.

Reforming Juvenile Justice

As District Attorney, I will end the practice of prosecuting children as adults. I will work with law enforcement to prevent interrogation of kids absent the presence of counsel and their parents, advocate for diversion programs and specialized courts that address the needs of young adults, and seek alternatives to incarceration for teenagers where possible and appropriate.

As any parent knows, kids sometimes make risky and dangerous decisions. That’s because neurological development continues until age 25 and young brains differ from adult brains in ways that increase the likelihood of risky and reckless behavior. But the fact is that most young people who commit crime do not continue to do so into adulthood. When kids and young adults experience little contact with the criminal justice system, and when their cases remain in juvenile court, their long-term outcomes are substantially better. Locking up kids has never been shown to enhance public safety. Rather, it is correlated with higher rates of recidivism. Prosecuting children as adults further destabilizes juvenile offenders, increasing their likelihood of reoffending in the future.

As District Attorney, I will end the practice of prosecuting children as adults. I will work with law enforcement to prevent interrogation of kids absent the presence of counsel and their parents, advocate for diversion programs and specialized courts that address the needs of young adults, and seek alternatives to incarceration for teenagers where possible and appropriate.

Working with and Supporting Immigrant Communities

Existing distrust between law enforcement and our immigrant communities undermines public safety for all, as crimes go unreported and offenders are not held accountable. As District Attorney, I will protect immigrants who serve as witnesses and report crimes, ensure that immigration consequences of plea deals are fully understood and weighed appropriately by prosecutors, and work to strengthen the relationship and heal distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

The criminal justice system wreaks catastrophic damage on non-U.S. citizens. The mere filing of criminal charges against non-U.S. citizens, let alone convictions, can trigger detention and deportation proceedings, and thus subject them to more significant collateral punishments and removal from their families than their U.S. citizen counterparts. These threats, and the demonization of immigrants, discourages the reporting of crimes, making our communities more dangerous for everyone.

As District Attorney, I will ensure that immigration consequences of plea deals are fully understood and weighed appropriately by prosecutors, and that defendants receive and fully understand the consequences; I will protect immigrants who serve as witnesses and report crimes; I will work to strengthen the relationship and heal distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement to enhance public safety throughout our county and I will ensure that processes for vacating convictions when an immigrant who pleaded guilty was unaware of the immigration consequences are streamlined.

Addressing Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

We must confront the fact that systemic racism continues to plague our criminal justice system, resulting in stark racial disparities and the over incarceration of communities of color. As District Attorney, I will embrace the tough conversations we must have about race and the criminal justice system and the reforms we must institute to ensure more equitable administration of criminal justice. I am committed to working with community leaders, advocates, and policy experts to confront and combat racial disparities within the justice system.

Combating Hate Crimes

The alarming rise in hate crimes in Orange County demands proactive action from our leaders. As District Attorney, I will hold offenders accountable and support restorative efforts rooted in education to combat recidivism. Furthermore, I will take preventive measures by working with community leaders on public education programs aimed at fostering inclusion, tolerance, and respect. 

Protecting LGBTQ+ Community

As District Attorney, I will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes while working with community partners to expand proactive approaches that foster tolerance, inclusion, and support of the LGBTQ+ community.  The LGBTQ+ community is overrepresented in America’s criminal justice system, and many of our youth experiencing homelessness come from the LGBTQ+ community.  We must find pathways out of the criminal justice system for our non-violent justice-involved LGBTQ+ youth and invest in ongoing support to promote positive outcomes.