In the heated hostility of the Hunter v Drummond rhetoric, also known at the high stakes race for the Republican nomination to be the next Attorney General; there is another option that a growing group of Oklahomans are asking questions about - Angela Bonilla.
Bonilla is a public defender in Okmulgee County's criminal justice system. She is a younger candidate and has already made a name for herself in the circles she influences.
She responded to a comment at our Readers Discussion Room (also known as our Facebook Group).
So I decided to make a further inquiry about an hour ago. Bonilla responded promptly and began her impromptu thesis on the 6 subjects I 'threw at her'.
It's now posted and she joined the discussion group where our 1500+ group members are reviewing her statements and asking yet more questions.
Here are her quick answers to our questions.
David Van Risseghem
Angela Bonilla for Attorney General,
several of us are concerned about both Drummond and Hunter (for several reasons). Can you tell us why we would find you to be a better choice?
Can you tell us you position on:
1. Civil Asset Forfeiture
2. Drug Policy
3. Mental Health and law enforcement
4. The massive incarceration rate
5. The power to seal audits (Tar Creek)
6. Social Activism as practiced by past AGs
- Civil Asset Forfeiture is a good idea in theory. Criminals should not profit from criminal activity. However, civil forfeiture benefits three entities, the prosecuting attorney, the arresting law enforcement agency, and the jail. There used to be a cap but there is not anymore. I believe if we are going to say to the criminals, if you profit from illegal activities, we have a right to take it, but not to allow the taking agency to profit from it. If we could figure out a way to funnel that money into Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, we could help prevent some criminal activity in the future (and offer aid in answer #4).
- Drug Policy is a broad topic. I am going to take a swing at it though. One of my favorite movies (and television series) is 21 Jump Street. It was their job to infiltrate the dealers and find the suppliers. I believe we already know who the suppliers are, it is the pharmaceutical companies. The United States and New Zealand are the only TWO countries in the world that have prescription drug ads and commercials that are directed to the consumers. I find this concerning. The consumers do not have the medical knowledge to make an informed decision as to its benefits or detriment to their health. Our only line of defense are the individuals who have the authority to prescribe those medications. As a society, we have to hold the medical profession accountable. There is a system currently in place that tracks pseudoephedrine purchases by individuals. I would like to see a similar system put in place to track prescriptions issued. I would like to see if any other country or state has a system in place or even look to other states to see how they deal with similar issues we are dealing with.
- Mental Health and Law Enforcement is a topic I want to explore more. As a public defender, I see a lot of people being charged with crimes when they are in the middle of a mental health crisis. I believe that every law enforcement officer needs to be trained to differentiate between someone in true crisis mode or drug induced intoxication. I am not sure if there is a Mental Health Crisis Unit (MHCU) within the police force but I do hope one day we can implement them. They would have a separate phone number that is directed to the MHCU that families can call when they are having issues with a family member in crisis. Those police officers would have resources that they could rely on in order to get the help these individuals need. And each task force within the group would have a social worker attached to follow up with the family and individual. This would prevent our jails and prisons from becoming a housing unit for people in need of medical attention. This would alleviate the burden on the 911 call center and patrolling officers. The MHCU would have a paper trail of prior contacts and the mental health diagnosis and be prepared prior to contact with the individual.
- I am in the middle of the storm of the massive incarceration rate. As a public defender, about 80% of my clients have not graduated high school and/ or are dealing with mental health issues, whether it is mental health diagnosis or trauma. In my vision for our state, I would love to see increase funding in Education and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services so we can begin our preventative measures for our future generations. In order to address our current situation, we need to focus on justice reform as well as alternative courts such as drug/ DUI court, Veteran's Court, Mental Health Court. We need a way to provide individuals with the tools to their own success.
- I believe in bringing transparency back to the government. I have been following the Tar Creek situation and I am angered and appalled at what was allowed to happened in our backyard and no one was held accountable. Not only do I want to bring transparency to the government but I also want to bring accountability back. If there are misappropriation of funds, then I plan on holding those individuals accountable. The government works for the people and the people have a right to be properly informed.
- I am not quite sure how to answer this question. I can only say that as an attorney, it is my job to follow the law and hold everyone accountable and I would continue to do so if I am elected as the next Attorney General.