For more than 28 years I've been proud to work as a prosecutor in San Diego County and to now serve as your District Attorney. As a child of immigrants who loves this country, I work every day to make San Diego a shining example of what makes America great. My top responsibility is to keep our community safe and I’m proud that San Diego has the lowest crime rate of any big city in America.
Nothing is more important than ensuring that there is justice in our justice system so that those who are dangerous are behind bars and those who earn a second chance can turn their lives around.
'Modern day abolitionist'
BY ZAINAB SALBI 06.22.17
She is not from New York and she does not wear pantsuits, but she is as fierce, passionate and committed to her job as Olivia Benson, the tireless detective on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Her name is Summer Stephan and she is the chief deputy district attorney in San Diego.
“In a lot of ways Olivia’s character embodies Summer’s spirit. Summer is extremely passionate in making sure that justice is serviced for the victims. She is real and passionate about the issue. She brings it from the angle of real humanity. And it is really refreshing for a survivor like me to see someone who is passionate about this issue. She is our local champion,” said Tom Jones. Stephan’s commitment to bringing justice for sex trafficking victims is refreshing for Jones and something that restored his belief in the justice system.
Jones did not see swift justice after he reported his own father, who had trafficked him as a child until the age of 15, to the authorities. “As I tried to pursue justice, the justice process just did not know how to deal with children of sexual violence and the process itself ended up victimizeing me again. The authorities gave my father a lesser punishment so they can pursue other people he was involved with. But I wanted justice for myself,” Jones said. That was back in the ’80s and Jones had to make a decision between staying angry and cynical or believing that there is hope in the justice system. He had taken a leap of faith to believe in the system, but it was not until he met Stephan that his leap of faith proved right. “Unlike a television character, Summer has seen awful things as a prosecutor here in San Diego and has done real things about it. Anybody who gets in contact with her for few minutes will know her passion about the issue,” Jones continued.
Stephan smiles at the comparison between her and Olivia Benson. “It is funny because I wanted to name my unit The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. We couldn’t do it for various reasons, so I had a sign in my desk saying ‘Special Victims Unit.’ I did that because the victims are special and what happened to them is very different than any one else. Sex trafficking snatches away their dignity in a very unique way. They are special not only because of the crime they endure but because of the resiliency and the way they come back and return to the state of being free people,” she said.