Keep up to date with Jacquie in the news

Our movement promising transformative change to the Hawaii criminal justice system, including ending mass incarceration, is gaining steam. Keep up to date with what Jacquie has been up to and news stories related to her activism and campaign to restore trust and equal justice to the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office. 

Honolulu Prosecutor Candidate

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George Floyd protests renew interest in Honolulu prosecutor's race

KITV 4

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As Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's death continue around the country, many have been fighting for criminal justice reform and racial equality. While it's also created motivation for many to vote this year, one office is particular.

The race is now getting national attention.  In the wake of George Floyd protests, Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced 10 cities where he was endorsing progressive candidates for D.A. or prosecutor, saying "we need D.A.s and prosecutors who understand that their job is fighting for justice."  One of those cities was Honolulu, and Sanders is endorsing Jacquie Esser for the seat.

 

Sanders said on social media that Esser has worked to reform the criminal justice system as a Deputy Public Defender.  Esser says she was surprised and honored by the endorsement, and says she's running on a platform of police oversight, and not prosecuting peaceful protesters or minor drug offenses.

 

"We want prosecutors who see their role as more than locking people up, that know that our jails and prisons are part of the problem are part of the cycle of criminality that we are seeing, we want prosecutors who move away from incarcecation as the only solution.. to investing in our community," Esser told KITV4.

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Bernie Sanders Endorses Jacquie Esser For Honolulu Prosecutor

Honolulu Civil Beat

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Former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed Hawaii public defender Jacquie Esser for Honolulu prosecutor on Twitter Thursday.

In a series of tweets endorsing candidates running for local offices around the country, Sanders said Esser has demanded “fair treatment and justice for Honolulu citizens of all backgrounds.”

Esser said on Twitter that she was thrilled about Sanders’ endorsement. She received the news while she was driving and had to pull over.

“Senator Sanders, a man who has dedicated his life and his career to fight for our most marginalized and overlooked people, a man who knows how destructive and racist our criminal justice system is, believes in my candidacy to bring transformative change to our criminal justice system here in Honolulu,” she said, “I’m so honored, Bernie, for your support.”

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Bernie Sanders Helps These Pro-Criminal Justice Reform Candidates Become District Attorneys

Daily KOS

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"Jacquie Esser is the first Deputy Public Defender to run for Honolulu Prosecutor. For the last decade, Jacquie has represented over 1,000 clients and worked to reform the criminal justice system as a Deputy Public Defender, demanding fair treatment and justice for Honolulu citizens of all backgrounds. As Honolulu Prosecutor, Jacquie would create a Prosecutor's Office that encourages rehabilitation, stabilization, and reintegration in the community whenever possible" - Bernie Sanders. 

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Deputy Public Defender launches campaign for Honolulu Prosecutor

KHON 2

Highlight: Deputy Public Defender, Jacquelyn (“Jacquie”) Esser announced Monday, Oct. 21 that she is running for Honolulu Prosecutor. 

Jacquie was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Hawaiʻi in 2000 to attend the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and earned a law degree at the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law. Jacquie fell in love with the spirit of Hawai ʻ i and put down her roots here. She lives in Kailua with her husband, Joe, and their 4-year-old daughter.

 

“I am running for Prosecutor because I have seen firsthand how our criminal justice system is failing the people of Hawaiʻi and wasting taxpayer dollars. I am the first deputy public defender to run for Honolulu Prosecutor. I know how broken our criminal justice system is and I know how to fix it.” 

 

Jacquie understands the struggles a family endures when a loved one suffers from a mental health or substance use disorder. Through her personal experiences and by analyzing the research and data, she knows that addressing the root causes of crime strengthens communities and makes us safer.

 

“We need to focus on prosecuting corruption and violent crimes, while diverting low-level offenders into treatment. We need to reduce our jail and prison population through bail reform and community-based treatment, give our children the resources they need to succeed, and bring the highest ethical standards to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.”

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More Candidates Enter Race For Honolulu Prosecutor

Honolulu Civil Beat

Highlight: Jacquelyn “Jacquie” Esser, who has been a Honolulu deputy public defender for the past 10 years, has entered the 2020 race for city prosecutor.

Esser said in a press release Monday that she’s running “to bring restorative change to the criminal justice system.”

She said, “I am running for prosecutor because I have seen firsthand how our criminal justice system is failing the people of Hawaii and wasting taxpayer dollars. I am the first deputy public defender to run for Honolulu prosecutor. I know how broken our criminal justice system is and I know how to fix it.”

The Arizona-born Esser moved to Hawaii to attend the University of Hawaii Manoa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and a law degree.

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Honolulu prosecutor candidates tout need for reform

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Highlights: At a debate Tuesday night, five candidates for Honolulu prosecuting attorney all agreed about the need to restore trust and accountability in the prosecutor’s office after its recent troubles but also carved out their own visions for tackling the job.

Jacquelyn Esser, a career deputy public defender, said the prosecutor’s office has failed Oahu’s residents and also spoke of a need to reform the way it operates. “It’s wasted lives, it’s wasted money and it’s broke the trust of our community.” Esser said she’s the only candidate “who has spent their entire career trying to get treatment for those who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.”

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Everyday Injustice Podcast – Hawaii Prosecutor Candidate Jacquelyn Esser

The Davis-Vanguard Podcast

Highlights: Listen to Jacquie's interview with the Davis-Vanguard Podcast as she discusses the unique issues facing Hawaii, but also the systemic problems.

Esser says: “We need to focus on prosecuting corruption and violent crimes, while diverting low-level offenders into treatment. We need to reduce our jail and prison population through bail reform and community-based treatment, give our children the resources they need to succeed, and bring the highest ethical standards to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.”

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Hawaii Updates: Cases Up 2; Health Dept. Under More Fire; Prosecutor Raises Alarms Over Inmates

Hawaii Public Radio

Highlights: On prison overcrowding and covid-19 outbreaks in the prisons system. Jacquie Esser, state deputy public defender who is also running for Honolulu prosecutor, said any discussion about halting the releases is premature. "As long as we have social distancing in our communities, we have to maintain social distancing in our correctional facilities," Esser said.

All but one of the state’s correctional facilities remains overcrowded compared to the number of inmates they were designed to hold. To reach those levels would require the release of another 225 detainees.

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More than a dozen granted early release amid pandemic have been re-arrested

Hawaii News Now

Highlights: Jacquie Esser, a deputy public defender, said the need to ease jail overcrowding during the pandemic was a priority.

“It’s worse than a cruise ship, because people are getting on and off of it every single day," said Esser.

"It’s correctional officers, they bring it home to their families, their kupuna, their keiki. And it spreads to the broader community, so it’s something that has to be done.”

Esser says many of the inmates would have been let go in the coming weeks anyway ― not because of COVID-19, but because they have served their time or the courts were preparing to do partial closures.

Jacquie Esser Candidate for the 2020 Prosecutor race in Honolulu.

Inmates released amid COVID-19 pandemic

KHON 2

Highlights:  Jacquie Esser Candidate for the 2020 Prosecutor race in Honolulu discusses prisoner release amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of March, the population in the state’s correctional facilities has decreased by than 800 inmates, some of them getting an early release because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, public defenders worried overcrowding at state jails could create a hot spot for the virus. 

 

Honolulu Deputy Public Defender, Jacquelyn Esser said their office prepared a list with more than 400 low-risk and non-violent offenders for the Hawaii Supreme court to rule on their release. 

 

“A cell that’s made for one person, we have three people or four people, with some people sleeping on the floor,” Esser said. “The people on that list are categorically denied if they have any type of assault charge, sexual assault charge, felony, burglary, unauthorized entering into a dwelling.”

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