McCollum has fresh ideas for criminal justice

Given the national clamor for policing reform, I called Heidi McCollum, who is running for Eagle County district attorney, to learn about her. I support her because she will bring fresh ideas to criminal justice. She has worked in the DA’s office for seven years after growing up in Eagle. Her father was a math teacher for over 50 years in the Eagle and Vail valleys. She knows our community. Her mother worked at the Department of Health and Human Services for three decades assisting with senior programs.

Heidi applied for a grant from the Vera Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending racial inequality in the criminal justice system, over a year ago well before George Floyd’s death outraged a nation. The grant she applied for was to study whether the Eagle County police departments use racial profiling and to ascertain what racial disparities exist in policing and prosecuting in our communities. In Eagle County, persons with Latin surnames make up 29% of the population, but account for nearly 45% of all arrests and court summons. She believes in restorative justice, where mediators resolve crimes by getting victims and perpetrators together to rather than by solely going to court. She favors the use of PR bonds for petty offenses, most for $2,000 or less, which get people out of jail and into the community. Before COVID-19, Eagle County jails held 70 to 75 inmates daily on average; today they hold 28. Not only is this safer health-wise, it gets people back into the community where they can work and contribute to society. McCollum is proactively calling police departments to discuss policing, and encourages them to call her while arrests are in progress, a step that could have saved Rayshard Brooks’ life who was shot at Wendy’s in Georgia. If you want to bring fresh ideas to criminal justice, vote for Heidi McCollum.

Ken Ransford