Jackie Lacey addresses a crowd at Union Station on Election Night. Photo by: Raghu Manavalan

History was made Tuesday night when Jackie Lacey became the first African-American and first female chief prosecutor of Los Angeles County. Armed with support from her boss, outgoing District Attorney Steve Cooley, Lacey garnered over 55 percent of the vote.

When asked by KCRW’s Warren Olney how it felt to have made history she said the vote proved that her qualifications mattered to voters more than her physical characteristics. But she acknowledged the historic moment, saying her parents had migrated from the South to get away from the discrimination and racism and violence of the 1950s and ‘60s, “and the fact their oldest daughter could in fact be District Attorney of the largest prosecutor’s office in the nation speaks volumes about where we’ve come as a nation.”

Lacey said that one of her main challenges is realignment – the shift of prisoners from the state to the county jails. She proposes easing the jail overcrowding through reprioritizing which kinds of criminals should be incarcerated. She says that perpetrators of some lower-level crimes, particularly those that are accompanied by mental illness or drug addiction, should instead be sent to alternative sentencing courts, while jail time should be for serious criminals, a category that in her view could include “identity thieves” as well as “bigtime drug dealers.”

Hear more from Jackie Lacey in this interview with Warren Olney:

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