Jack Stollsteimer interview with Jamie Taglang, Senior, Haverford High
“It’s time to bring Delaware County’s criminal justice system into the 21st century. We need to make this system fair and just for everyone.” That is the underlying message of Jack Stollsteimer’s candidacy for Delaware County District Attorney.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jack this past August. We discussed criminal justice, guns, the environment, and the common-sense approach of his campaign. I walked out of our interview excited by his deep compassion and impressed by his smart policies, which focus on helping Delaware County residents of all backgrounds.
Jack noted significant differences between Delaware County Democrats and Republicans in their approach to crime and criminal justice. For example, local Republicans like to tout their toughness on crime by focusing on punitive outcomes and hard sentences. But, Jack said, “people have come to realize that we need to be both smart and hard on crime at the same time.” Democrats realize that incarceration in a for-profit prison is not the smartest approach to reducing crime and delivering justice. “It’s just common sense,” he remarked when explaining his plans for de-privatizing the George Hill Correctional Facility, “taking the profits that are currently going out of the county to a private company and reinvesting that money into drug treatment and mental health programs, so that we can start trying to cut the pipeline of people who are going to that county jail.”
In addition to dealing with private prisons, Jack plans on reforming our cash bail system to be fair for all. Almost 30% of the people admitted to the Delco jail were held solely because of their inability to post cash bail. In many cases, the amount of bail set is simply too high. Jack will institute a “due process hearing” for those who fail to post bail within 72 hours of arrest. He predicted that “90% of the time, they will say ‘I don’t have the money.’” In that case, bail would be reset because, Jack explains, “we are violating provisions in both the state and federal constitutions” whenever we set bail beyond what a person can afford.
Jack will take a common-sense approach to marijuana law, as well. For decades, marijuana laws have been disproportionately detrimental to poor communities and communities of color. As D.A., Jack will lower the offense from a misdemeanor criminal charge to a summary citation. This will significantly reduce the population in our county jail and stop the life-altering effects of criminalizing (certain) people for personal use of marijuana.
Along with smart, progressive criminal justice policies, Jack Stollsteimer is committed to furthering a progressive agenda on other issues. He would start an environmental crimes unit to compensate for the minimal work our current District Attorney is has been doing for the health of our planet. He would also work to keep us safe from the gun epidemic. “I think if a DA is at the table saying we need a law to require the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, we need to ban military assault weapons and high capacity clips in PA, those kinds of solutions are much more likely to happen. People in law enforcement must speak up and demand reform in gun policy, and I’m going to be that advocate.”
Jack explains Delco’s lack of action on these issues as a function of Republicans’ long-held control over the D.A.’s office. “The current Republican district attorney is . . . beholden to the county Republican party, the people who have been running this county for 150 years. She’s not going to do anything about the corruption that goes on in the courthouse every day.” As Delco’s first Democratic District Attorney since the Civil War, Jack brings independence from outside interests, arguably the most important factor when choosing our top law enforcement official. The only people who Jack will be beholden to are the people of Delaware county, whether they voted for him or not.
As someone who cares deeply about the faults of the criminal justice system, I came away from my conversation with Jack Stollsteimer believing that there is hope in Delaware County. He sees the potential for real change in the and is ready to act to fulfill that potential. “I’m really encouraged by what’s going on right now in Harrisburg and in Washington, where people on the right and the left are meeting together on criminal justice policy. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened in Delaware County.” An experienced public servant dedicated to the well-being of the people of Delaware county, Jack Stollsteimer not only makes a great candidate, but will be an outstanding District Attorney, and one that I will be proud to vote for this November.