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Jefferson County DA’s Race: Democrat Danny Carr

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Danny Carr, chief deputy Jefferson County District Attorney (DA), said he plans to be proactive with at-risk kids, in and out of school.
By William C. Singleton III and Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times

Danny Carr, chief deputy Jefferson County District Attorney (DA), said age is just a number.

“Just because you’ve been in the world longer doesn’t make you the best candidate,” he said.

Democrat Carr and Republican Mike Anderton are on the ballot in the Tuesday, November 6, general election to determine who will occupy the DA’s seat for the next four years. During the current four-year term, both Anderton and Carr have served as interim DAs. Carr was appointed in January 2017 by Presiding County Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker to fill the seat of former DA Charles Todd Henderson, who was removed from office on perjury charges. Anderton currently serves in the seat, after Republican Gov. Kay Ivey tabbed him to replace Carr and serve out the remaining term.

Familiar With Community

One reason Carr, 47, believes he’s the best candidate: he is familiar with the community.

“It’s important to attend neighborhood meetings, talk to residents and neighborhood presidents, talk about bringing back neighborhood watches,” he said. “But [we have to also make] sure we promote trust between law enforcement and the various communities. … That’s the only way we can break through the cycle of violence.”

Carr said he plans to be proactive with at-risk kids, in and out of school.

“[I plan to make] myself available to speak to those kids and provide any support I can via the various programs. It’s important to address the issues of guns, drugs, the pipeline to prison with kids early and not wait until they have committed a crime,” he said. “Being transparent is important to ensure fairness and [create] confidence in the criminal justice system. People want to believe justice is blind, but the only way to import this belief is to make sure you have credibility in the community that you serve.”

Job Experience

Carr has been with the Jefferson County DA’s office since 2000, after he graduated from Miles Law School, and he speaks about his on the job experience.

“I’ve done the job,” he said. “More than that, [though], I have credibility in the community, which is hurting right now. I have the ability to bring law enforcement and the community together. I have the ability to bring some transparency to that office. … I think the sample size of my leadership at the DA’s office, where I served as interim DA for almost nine months, … [is] proof that I can lead that office, that I’m the best candidate, that I have the creativity to offer this community something we haven’t had.”

Carr said crime prevention starts in the community, and the DA’s office must establish relationships to reach people before they commit crimes and connect with residents to help solve crimes.

“The question is, ‘Do you have credibility in the communities that you serve?’ Have you been in the communities that you serve prior to seeking office?” he said. “You have to take that extra step. You can’t stay in the courthouse and prosecute cases anymore. You’ve got to become involved in prevention along with prosecution.”

The Democratic challenger said even though he has fewer years in the DA’s office than his opponent, he made the most of his time as interim DA. Age is just a number, he said.

“During my tenure, the office was run with transparency. Cases were flowing and moving through the various courtrooms,” Carr said. “I think the office has never been run better as it relates to efficiency, and I think people in the office and the judges in the courthouse would echo those sentiments.”

Name Recognition

Carr said he wants to make sure voters know he’s on the ballot and can connect a face with a name: “At this point, for me, it’s making sure your name is relevant, making sure people know your name as far as name recognition and that they get out to vote.”

He also would take a progressive approach to corrections, he said.

“[We have to] make sure we do things that benefit those individuals while they’re paying for the crime they committed. The worst thing that could happen is that they go in and come out worse, … because then they come into our community [and cause even more problems]. We have to … place people in the best position they can be in when they get out, so they won’t return to a life of crime.”

The DA’s office should be creative in its plea agreements for nonviolent offenders, Carr said.

“It’s easy to send them off to prison. That’s the simple way,” he said. “The best way to do it is to look at their backgrounds, make sure we have professionals in place to deal with daily mental-health issues.”

He was asked about the steps necessary to build trust with community members, who are sometimes needed to provide information on crimes.

“The first thing you have to have is credibility in the community,” Carr said. “They have to know who you are. … When there’s crime in the community, you must go to the source: talk to those kids, engage them; talk to the parents, engage them. You have to take that extra step.”

Pressing Issues

Carr said three issues are most pressing for the DA’s office.

“One: violence and how we limit or prevent it. Two: bridging the gap and making the relationship better between law enforcement and the community. And three: making sure the criminal justice system is transparent and fair to everyone.

“With violence, we have to address those issues by going into those neighborhoods and communities where people are more apt to have a gun and use it as a means of dealing with issues between two people. [We have to] go into schools and talk to kids about the dangers of guns, something I’ve been doing for years.”

Click here to read more from our election coverage: Candidates; Mike Hale; Mark Pettway.