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Erie County DA candidates talk incarceration

Posted at 11:59 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-09 13:51:28-04

The race for Erie County District Attorney is heating up, and the candidates are sounding off ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Thursday, the candidates were invited to a public meeting with VOICE Buffalo, which is calling on the new DA to cut incarceration rates in half.

Candidates met in front of a packed crowd at Elim Christian Fellowship in Buffalo. VOICE Buffalo wants to lower the population behind bars by sending first time non-violent offenders to a restorative justice program, instead of jail.This group wants a District Attorney who can make that happen.

"It's in Albany and it needs to be here in Erie County," said candidate John Flynn about the Law Enforcement Assistance Program. "I don't care what Erie County wants to do, it's what I want to do, and if I have to I will do whatever I can to force the City of Buffalo and Erie County to have this program. You have my word on that."

"I don't want to send our kids to jail. I want all kids to have a fair opportunity to succeed," said Acting Erie County DA Michael Flaherty. "Keeping someone incarcerated costs money. There are some folks that pose such a danger that jail is the only way, but we need to do a better job of identifying those who, if they get the proper help, can lead productive lives."

"I think anyone who has integrity would love to work with your organization on all these ideas," candidate Mark Sacha said to organizers at VOICE Buffalo. "There's too many people in jail, and quite frankly anything that would benefit the general community I would be in favor of."

Conservative candidate Joeseph Treanor III had a prior commitment and could not attend.

Each of the candidates pledged to work with VOICE Buffalo on these issues.