WHY I’M RUNNING
I am running for Santa Clara County District Attorney to build a justice system that protects the safety and dignity of all people in the place I’ve called home my entire life. I believe Black Lives Matter and I will fight the status quo of systemic racism and mass incarceration that fails to keep our communities safe.
As District Attorney, I will invest in mental health services and other alternatives to incarceration that are proven to prevent violent and property crimes. I will honor survivors and address the root causes of crime to alleviate suffering, heal our community, and reduce recidivism. And I’ll be an independent DA that holds police accountable when they violate the law.
Sajid A. Khan is a Santa Clara County public defender, South Bay native, and outspoken civil rights advocate running for Santa Clara County District Attorney.
Sajid believes all members of our community are safer when we honor the dignity of one another. He is running for District Attorney to bring a culture of compassion and understanding to our community and courtrooms. He will work to address the root causes of crime because we cannot incarcerate our way to public safety.
Sajid, born in San Jose, knows and loves Santa Clara County. He was raised here by his parents – Muslim immigrants from Madras, India. Sajid credits his parents with instilling in him a dual faith in service and justice. His parents exposed him to the life and teachings of Malcolm X from a young age, inspiring him to pursue a career defending civil rights.
While Sajid and his four siblings grew up in Milpitas and San Jose, his mother worked as a laboratory scientist at O’Connor Hospital. Sajid’s late father, a physicist in the semiconductor industry, established a mosque and later a school, both in Santa Clara. The mosque, Muslim Community Association, is where Sajid worships today. The school, Granada Islamic School, currently educates Sajid’s two sons.
Sajid is a proud product of Bay Area public schools. As a senior in high school at 16 years old, he juggled the demands of leadership and a rigorous academic program at San Jose High School’s International Baccalaureate Program while serving as the school’s student body president and captain of the varsity football and baseball teams.
That same year, Sajid’s father passed away — and Sajid’s family relied on him to step up to support them. Sajid was thrust into balancing his senior year of high school with stepping into leadership for his family. He made the decision to honor his father by living a life dedicated to service, and now, forever anchored to San Jose, prioritized continuing his education in the Bay Area. Sajid went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley where he served as a student senator, and later attended UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco to earn his law degree.
When the civil rights values instilled during childhood conflicted with realities taught in law school, Sajid’s perspective focused on what remains his central motivation: eliminating systemic inequities of the criminal justice system. This same passion propelled his career as a public defender starting in 2008.
In 13 years as a public defender in San Jose, Sajid has fought for people’s constitutional rights and against systemic racism and mass incarceration. He has walked our neighborhood streets and come to know the lives and stories of people in our diverse community. He has sat in the county jails and juvenile hall, representing countless individuals who have suffered trauma. And Sajid has heard from survivors and witnessed real harm caused by criminal activity.
In handling every type of case, Sajid has seen how the system operates. He knows how it fails and causes harm to everyone involved. He has advocated for people in more than 40 jury trials in adult court and 25 court trials in juvenile court. The people he has represented include a 14-year-old child prosecuted as an adult, a man exposed to years in prison for a low-level drug offense under California’s inhumane Three Strikes Law, and another man facing the death penalty.
All of these experiences have demonstrated to Sajid the need for a true progressive approach to justice that holds people accountable while offering healing and wholeness for survivors and all involved.
Sajid is an award winning advocate and attorney. In 2016 Sajid was presented with “The Heart of the Office Award” for his service to the community and the people he represents. In 2020, Sajid again was recognized for his achievements as a young attorney in the state of California, receiving the CACJ (California Attorneys for Criminal Justice) Skip Glenn Award for Excellence in Advocacy.
As an author and podcaster, Sajid is a leading voice on criminal justice reform and does not back down when speaking out for what is right. Sajid has appeared on Democracy Now, NPR and The Chasing Justice Podcast. Sajid’s written work has been published in the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, The Marshall Project, the National Association for Public Defense website, the Daily Journal, San Jose Mercury News, Davis Vanguard, and San Jose Inside.
Sajid volunteers with Silicon Valley De-Bug through their participatory defense movement. He’s worked with public defenders, defense attorneys and community organizations across the country training them on how to best serve and humanize the people public defenders represent.
Santa Clara County deserves a new, humane, effective approach to public safety and justice. Sajid Khan would be honored to serve as District Attorney.
APPROACH TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE
We will determine in each case what intervention will address root causes underlying an incident, promote rehabilitation, hold police accountable, combat systemic racism, and respect and restore crime victims.
We will pursue this approach before filing, during plea bargaining, and after trial. No one will receive a harsher sentence recommendation because they exercise their right to trial by jury.
PREVENTING VIOLENT & PROPERTY CRIMES BY INVESTING IN ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
As the father of two boys and a son to an aging mother, I share the community’s fear that on any given day our home or vehicle will be burglarized and our family’s sense of security shaken. The thought can be paralyzing. These feelings of unsafety and fear in our community exist under the watch and leadership of our incumbent DA who continues to push a broken status quo.
I’m running for DA because we can’t keep turning to the same failed policies and practices. This moment demands real investment in mental health services and other alternatives to incarceration. By doing so, we prevent harms like burglaries and gun violence from happening in the first place.
When property and violent crimes do occur, we must determine in each case the evidence based intervention that will restore crime victims while also addressing root causes underlying an incident, including mental illness, substance abuse and unhealed trauma. We must hold people accountable while also promoting healing and rehabilitation.
These system responses, more creative and effective than incarceration-centric measures, will stop the cycle that manifests in these harms and will actually make our communities safer and give us the peace of mind we all desire and deserve.
Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline
Too many kids, mostly children of color, are processed through our school-to-prison pipeline. Many are from underserved communities and have endured traumatic childhoods that unfortunately increase their risk of harmful behavior. These factors are overlooked in charging and sentencing decisions. As District Attorney, I will stop dooming generations of young people to lives of incarceration.
I will not prosecute kids as adults. The science is clear: There are fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds in parts of the brain involved in behavior control. They engage in riskier behavior for perceived immediate reward without considering long-term consequences. Critically, they possess unique capacities for rehabilitation. My office will structure charges and interventions based on this reality. We will consider childhood trauma and life circumstances of the accused when assessing charges and outcomes in all cases.
Stand Up to Police Misconduct
When any of us break the law, we expect there to be consequences. The standard should be no different for law enforcement. Our communities are rightfully demanding an end to police brutality, racial profiling, and lack of transparency in law enforcement agencies. In order to gain trust with the communities they serve, police officers must be held accountable when they violate the law.
As District Attorney, I will protect the public from police violence, corruption, and discrimination. I will stand up for people when they are illegally stopped, racial profiled, or victims of excessive force. I will prosecute police officers who unjustifiably kill or use excessive force.
I will prosecute cases where police violate constitutional rights or engage in racially discriminatory practices when collecting evidence. I will not allow police officers who have proven to be dishonest to serve as witnesses in court. I will prosecute police officers who falsify reports or commit perjury.
BRING HEALING TO SURVIVORS OF CRIME
Less than one third of sexual assaults are reported, and even fewer end in justice for survivors and accountability for perpetrators. And too often, when harms are reported, prosecutors put survivors through additional layers of trauma without actually listening to what they want or meeting their needs.
When elected DA, I will work to foster a trauma sensitive, safe community culture that encourages survivors to report the harms against them.
I will fight to ensure that trauma-informed professionals hold space for those who have been harmed, ask them what they need, and respond with empathy, sensitivity and care. Our office will assign trauma-informed prosecutors who will meet with survivors on a regular basis per their wishes, and provide them a voice in how cases are handled.
I will establish channels to connect survivors with holistic resources such as access to housing, peer support, health care, and financial support. I will fight to provide survivors the support they need to feel safe and to heal, regardless of whether they participate in a prosecution and regardless of the outcome of a case.
I will seek evidence-based sentences and utilize restorative justice practices and interventions that honor and respect survivors, provide trauma-informed care, hold offenders accountable, and stop future harms while ensuring due process and dignity for all.
California State Senator
Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte
California State Assemblymember
SEIU Local 2015
Progressive Democrats for Social Justice
SEIU UNITED HEALTH CARE WORKERS
Democratic Activists for Women Now
SMART JUSTICE CALIFORNIA
Santa Clara Co. La Raza Lawyers Association
Avalanche Democratic Club
County Employees Management Association
SOUTH BAY PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE
Sunrise Silicon Valley
WORKING FAMILIES PARTY OF CALIFORNIA
South Asian Bar Association of Nor Cal
BAY RISING ACTION
Run for Something
California Federation of Interpreters
Santa Clara County Single Payer Healthcare Coalition
REAL JUSTICE PAC
San Jose City Councilmember
San Jose City Councilmember
Mountain View Mayor
Mountain View City Councilmember
Mountain View City Councilmember
Sunnyvale City Councilmember
Monte Sereno Mayor
Gilroy City Councilmember
San Jose-Evergreen Community College District Trustee
Sunnyvale City Councilmember
Santa Clara City Councilmember
Santa Clara County Board of Education President
San Jose/Evergreen Community College Board Member
Mount Pleasant Elementary School Board Member
Los Altos School District Board Member
Jorge Pacheo Jr.
Oak Grove School Board President
Oak Grove School District Board of Education Trustees
Maimona Afzal Berta
Franklin-McKinley School District Board Member
Retired Santa Clara County Judge
Co-founder and Coordinator, Silicon Valley De-Bug
Belmont City Councilmember
Justice Reform Advocate
Co-chair, Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet
Former San Jose City Council District 6 Candidate
California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Bay Area Vice Chair
Former Candidate for Manhattan DA
Former President of the Afo-UPRIS Democratic Club, Member of the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed
Public Health Doctor and Progressive Activist
Public Defender and Former Candidate for Manhattan DA
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