Time for DA to Apologize to Joel Alcox

On August 17, the State of California, with unopposed support from the Attorney General’s office, approved $140/day of compensation to Joel Alcox for his nearly 30 years of wrongful incarceration. The courts have ruled, and the State of California will be writing an “apology” check to Alcox in the coming weeks for the cruel injustice of incarcerating an innocent man. But noticeably missing is an apology from the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, which led the charge in 1986 in convicting an innocent man and then spent dozens of years and countless taxpayer dollars fighting for and defending this horrible injustice.

Whether the Santa Barbara DA felt he was guilty or knew he was innocent, it no longer matters because the State of California has approved compensation for Alcox under the Wrongful Convictions statute. This formally acknowledges that the State of California and the Santa Barbara DA’s Office got it wrong in 1986.

And yet, to this day, Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara’s district attorney since 2010, has not apologized publicly, nor to Joel Alcox personally.

We all recognize (or should) that the District Attorney and her colleagues do an outstanding job of prosecuting the “bad guys,” and they deserve the recognition and applause that comes with those convictions. The hours sacrificed are significant, and the “rewards” mostly personal, so I am the first to thank them for their hard work to keep our community safer.

But, District Attorneys are human. And they make mistakes. No, Dudley was not personally responsible for Alcox’s wrongful conviction in 1986, but she is the face of the DA’s Office and the County of Santa Barbara today. As such, the community deserves to hear an apology from her, acknowledging when mistakes are made. But most importantly, Joel Alcox deserves an apology directly from the office responsible for his horrible injustice. Just as he heard in Sacramento on Aug 17. Well, Ms. Dudley? The community and Joel are waiting.

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