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DAN KAPELOVITZ FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL
Dan Kapelovitz for Attorney General 2022
AS ATTORNEY GENERAL, DAN KAPELOVITZ WILL FIGHT FOR JUSTICE.
I’m a criminal defense and animal rights attorney. As Attorney General, I’ll fight to end mass-incarceration, reform the criminal justice system, take on corporate polluters, and aggressively enforce laws meant to protect animals, the environment and civil rights.
ABOUT DAN KAPELOVITZ
Dan Kapelovitz is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist. Dan also teaches Criminal Procedure and Evidence at the People’s College of Law.
Dan Kapelovitz earned his law degree from UCLA School of Law. He was President of UCLA’s the Animal Law Society, and a member of the UCLA Law Review. He volunteered for the Innocence Project and the Prisoner Re-Entry Project, and worked on “special circumstances” murder cases and other criminal matters for the Los Angeles County Public Defender as part of UCLA’s Capital Punishment Clinic.
During law school, Dan externed at the Working People’s Law Center and served as a law clerk for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Animal Protection Unit, working on animal abuse and neglect cases.
After graduating law school, Dan was an associate attorney at a large civil law firm, where he was the lead attorney on a successful asylum case, worked on a successful pro bono prisoner civil rights case, and litigated employment, Intellectual Property, entertainment, and other matters.
Dan then clerked for a federal judge for the United States District Court of the Central District of California.
After his clerkship, Dan began devoting his efforts to help those who have found themselves caught up in the criminal justice system, including animal rights protestors whose First Amendment rights have been violated.
Before becoming a lawyer, Dan had a successful career in journalism. He was the Features Editor of Hustler Magazine, and wrote more than 100 articles for numerous publications, including the LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Bizarre Magazine, Men’s Edge, and more. At Hustler Magazine, Dan won the Project Censored Award for his reporting on depleted uranium, and was the editorial point man for Larry Flynt’s First Amendment lawsuit against the Pentagon.
Criminal Justice Reform
As a criminal defense attorney, I have seen many aspects of the criminal justice system that need drastic reform. We must end mass incarceration. We need to abolish the death penalty (except for certain incorrigible corporations who are legally deemed “persons”). We must reform the bail system so that innocent people are not coerced to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit just to get out of jail with a time-served sentence – which happens often, every working day, in our criminal courts. We need to end racist gang enhancements. End Three Strikes laws. Stop trying children as adults. Make the jails and prisons safer. Focus on restorative justice and preventing crime in the first place.
Answers to California Globe Questionnaire Regarding Criminal Justice (and other issues):
1 – Restorative justice, defund the police, and other similar recent movements and concepts have challenged some of the most long-standing tenants [sic] of law enforcement and public safety. What is your opinion of these ideas and would you as Attorney General work to increase or limit their scope?
Most long-standing tenets of law enforcement and public safety, i.e., “tough on crime” measures, have not worked. We need to work on preventing crime — not just waiting until a crime occurs and then impose the maximum punishment available. Punishment may deter some criminal activity, but we over-punish in most cases, which can actually increase recidivism. As a criminal defense attorney, I am on the front lines of the broken criminal justice system, and as the next Attorney General I would definitely work to increase the scope of restorative justice, police training and transparency, and other similar reforms. We need to end the death penalty, stop trying children as adults, end mass incarceration, reform the bail system, and end Three Strikes and other harsh sentencing enhancements. Most importantly, we need to create and fund intervention and treatment programs that would prevent crime in the first place.
2 – Propositions 47 and 57 have unquestionably changed California’s criminal justice landscape. Did you support their passage and, if so, would you take the same stand today? And, as Attorney General, how would you either expand or attempt to limit their impacts?
I supported Propositions 47 and 57 and continue to do so. Prop 47 makes shoplifting in the amount less than $950 a misdemeanor. It also makes mere possession of a narcotic a misdemeanor. Most people in California agree that someone should not become a convicted felon for committing these relatively minor offenses. Prop 57 makes it so minors cannot automatically be tried as adults, another improvement of the criminal justice system. I believe that sentencing a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole should be a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. Prop 57 also allows for the possible early release of non-violent offenders from prison. Prop 57 is a step in the right direction, but to truly end mass-incarceration, we need further improvements in sentencing and crime prevention.
3 – In certain situations – such as the legal defense of Proposition 8 – the Attorney General may be asked to mount a legal defense of a state and/or voter action they personally disagree with. Do you believe the Attorney General is bound to defend the laws – and propositions passed by the voters – of the State of California?
As Attorney General, I would do what was just. I would study the issues and do what I believe was the right thing to do. For example, I believe in defending the will of the people, but if, say, a proposition is clearly unconstitutional, I would not mount a legal defense of it.
4 – A pair of state District Attorneys – Chesa Boudin and George Gascon – are currently facing recall efforts. Do you support or oppose these efforts and why?
I oppose these recall efforts. Both Boudin and Gascon enacted policies that they campaigned on. A majority of the people voted for those policies. Most recalls are a waste of time and money. (I did run for governor in the 2021 recall election, but I campaigned against the recall and only ran as an alternative candidate if the recall went through.) Unless an office-holder does something truly egregious or illegal, it’s better to wait until the next voting cycle and vote that office-holder out if the people no longer agree with his or her policies. Furthermore, I agree with most of their efforts to reform our broken criminal justice system.
5 – An Attorney General is an elected official, but unlike many other such electeds has very specific tasks to complete and constructs to abide by, some of which may be either personally disagreeable or politically damaging. As the office has shown itself as a “launching pad” for larger political careers, how would you approach this tension between public duty and private gain?
I’m not a career politician. I’m not trying to use the position as a launching pad for a political career. After my term in office, I will go back to defending those caught up in the criminal justice system, including animal rights activists whose prosecutions violate the First Amendment. Moreover, I am not taking a dime from special interest groups. As such, there is no tension between public duty and private gain.
6 – Smash and grab organized looting, shoplifting, and personal theft crimes have risen dramatically in California recently. Why do you believe this is so and what can an Attorney General do about the problem?
What causes crime rates to fluctuate is more complex than some people think. Poverty and drug addiction contribute more to any rise in theft crimes than, say, a couple of progressive district attorneys. As Attorney General, I would work to get at the root of these problems so we can prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
7 – What are commonly referred to as “quality of life” offenses – low-level drug use and dealing, prostitution, loitering, nuisance, etc. – have essentially been de-criminalized in the state. How has this exacerbated the burgeoning homelessness problem and would you as Attorney General favor a form of “broken windows” law enforcement policy to curb this issue?
First of all, most of these crimes have not been de-criminalized all over the state. Drug dealing has not only not been de-criminalized, it is usually charged as a felony. However, most so-called “quality of life” offenses should be de-criminalized. People with substance abuse or mental health issues should get treatment, not incarceration. Offenses related to homelessness should not be criminalized. As for the “broken windows” theory, it has pretty much been debunked and has resulted in racist stop-and-frisk policies.
One thing that I can do, that perhaps no other viable candidate can do, is to thumb my nose at big-money special interests. I don’t need them to get elected. This means that, I can bring in smart people with great values that have no pressure to respond to anything but the public good.
How many leading major party candidates can say this? I’m an animal rights attorney who has successfully represented pro bono (without cost) many of my fellow animal rights activists accused of crimes related to their activism. Our mistreatment of animals is among our most pressing ethical issues today. During law school, I worked for the Animal Protection Unit of the Los Angeles City Attorney and was president of UCLA Law School’s Animal Law Society.
I support the Green Party’s platform regarding the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which you’ll find at https://www.gp.org/ecological_sustainability/#esEthical, but believe it does not go far enough. We need to end factory farming. We need to end cruel animal experimentation. I also believe in legal personhood – protection of animals’ legitimate interests by advocates (which, no, does not include their own right to vote, but does include protections against torture). A corporation is considered a “person” with some constitutional rights; shouldn’t living animals, capable of suffering and joy, be as well?
• Climate change/Green New Deal https://howiehawkins.us/ecosocialist-green-new-deal/
• Justice – social, environmental and economic
• Fair Taxation http://cagreens.org/platform/fair-taxation
• Health care and housing as human rights
• Support Medicare For All/Single Payer: When there is a Republican Governor, the Democrats in the legislature pass single payer bill, but when there is a Democratic Governor, the Democrats in the legislature don’t.
• Stop criminalizing homelessness
• Universal basic income
• Workers rights and living wages
• Free lifelong public education
• Criminal Justice Reform – End Mass Incarceration
• Shift resources used to fund the police. See https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/15909630/2020/06/MPD-Charter-Amendment_VII-062420-Final.pdf
• End the Death Penalty: The Green Party has always opposed death penalty.
• Civil Liberties