Pamela Price Turns Alameda’s Criminal Justice System On Its Head

It’s difficult to keep up with the number of controversial actions taken by newly-elected Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price.

Voters always knew that Price’s sensibilities lied with the restorative justice movement. But it’s still been remarkable to see her progressive jurisprudence in practice. 

Since taking office, Price has placed some of the D.A.’s most experienced prosecutors on leave and fired two leading investigators.

In January, one week after taking office, Price moved to drop all special circumstances against convicted murderer and suspected serial killer David Misch. He is accused of kidnapping and killing nine-year-old Michaela Garecht and two other women.

The enhancements were filed against Misch by Price’s predecessor Nancy O’Malley. Without them, he would no longer face life in prison without parole. 

It isn’t just Misch who’s getting a sweeter deal under the new D.A. In a March memo, Price announced a new directive that makes probation the “'presumptive offer” in most plea negotiations in Alameda. In cases where probation isn’t an option, prosecutors are to pursue the lowest possible prison term. 

Currently, Price is involved in a public dispute with a judge who rejected a plea deal for a suspect in a string of slayings. 

Delonzo Logwood, who is accused of murdering three people, would have two murder charges dropped and potentially serve just a few years in jail under the deal offered by Price’s office. The judge in the case, Mark McCannon, said he had never seen an offer like this in his career. He rejected the agreement.

Price now wants the judge removed from the case. She has filed a motion to have McCann disqualified from the Logwood case and any others handled by her office.  

The most emotionally-charged case being handled by Price is that of Jasper Wu, a 23-month-old toddler who was struck and killed by a stray bullet during a gang shootout on I-880 in 2021. Three suspects were promptly arrested and charged with murder under former D.A. O’Malley. But now Price says she is taking a second look at the charges and even considering “non-carceral forms of accountability,” i.e. no jail time.

Wu’s family is terrified that their son’s killers won’t be brought to justice. Adding insult are a series of emails obtained by local media in which Price accuses the local “Chinese community” of misleading the public about the case. 

The National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association is requesting an apology for her use of that language. Price has shot back, saying she is the one shouldering racist attacks from people upset over the case.

Pamela Price was elected in November on a promise to shake up criminal justice and disrupt the system in Alameda County. She’s certainly kept her promise.