John Barrick, who works as a senior prosecutor in the homicide unit for the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, is running for Ventura County District Attorney against Erik Nasarenko who was appointed last year.
Barrick, 52, is the only candidate running for the District Attorney seat other than Nasarenko.
Barrick was born in Staten Island, New York, but moved to Los Angeles shortly after. After his parents’ divorce, he moved to Oxnard with his two siblings, as well as his stepsister, and his mother and stepfather.
“I grew up in Ventura County – in Oxnard. I am the first district attorney candidate to have grown up in Ventura County in decades,” Barrick said to VIDA Newspaper. “I don’t even know how long it’s been since we’ve had a candidate or a DA who actually grew up here.”
Originally, Barrick never planned to get involved in politics, but after certain laws were passed that he did not agree with and learning who the previous candidates for DA were, he decided to run. He felt that these candidates weren’t going to do the job the way he believes it should be done.
“There were laws being passed that were far more favorable to criminals than they were to crime victims,” Barrick said. “I would get frustrated because a lot of these laws seemed to be written by criminal advocacy groups as well as defense attorneys, and people in law enforcement and victim advocacy groups are never consulted.”
Barrick says that a guiding principle that he came up with for himself is “victims come first.”
“I love serving the public, I love serving the people of Ventura County, I love serving my crime victims. I’ve completely dedicated myself to that,” he said to VIDA Newspaper.
The Oxnard resident says he realizes that the number of people of color who commit crimes, and who are incarcerated, is high. But he says that a high number of crime victims are also people of color.
“Why are people of color so often the victims of violent crime and why are there no politicians talking about that,” Barrick said.
Barrick says that a way to work on this issue is through community outreach.
“I want to reach out to community outreach groups, not just city councils, actual people who are on the ground working with people who are disadvantaged and suffering. Let’s get some real solutions instead of solutions that just sound good,” Barrick said to VIDA Newspaper.
The district attorney candidate also feels that community outreach would help decrease the number of people who are incarcerated. He says that a lot of the problems with crime rates today has to do more with poverty than the color of someone’s skin.
“A lot of people who commit crimes are people who were poor or grew up poor. Maybe they’re not getting the same breaks as everybody else,” Barrick said. “Instead of addressing the problem after they’ve committed the crime, as a society we should be doing more to address the issues before the crime is committed.”
Aside from Barrick’s work experience, he says that his life experience makes him fit for the position of district attorney. He says that he grew up poor and has also been a victim of crime.
“I’ve been threatened by gang members. I’ve had things taken from me, and when you’re poor and something gets taken from you it hurts,” Barrick said. “When you’re poor or lower middle class and something is taken from you…it really hurts, and you want justice.”
Barrick considers himself to be an aggressive prosecutor, but fair. “I want people to be held accountable, but once they serve [their sentence], we as a society need to develop programs and policies that allow people convicted of crimes to be integrated into society again. I think that is where criminal justice should really be focusing on,” Barrick said to VIDA Newspaper.
Barrick explained that a lot of the problem with crime also has to do with recidivism. “We’re not going to address recidivism by having lighter penalties and shorter stays in custody, that is actually going to increase the recidivism. The people engaging in misconduct are going to feel empowered by the lack of serious penalties,” Barrick said.
If elected, Barrick would too like to work on having the Ventura County District Attorney’s office reflect the community that it is serving. He believes it would make the county safer.
“Forty-three percent of the county is Hispanic. We don’t have nearly that percentage of DA’s who meet that, preferably Spanish speaking because a lot of our crime victims are Hispanic and Spanish speaking,” Barrick said. “I want to create a more diverse office, but I don’t want to just do it because it is a box to check on my campaign… I actually come from a very diverse family, so I actually mean it.”
Barrick has been working for the Ventura County District Attorney’s office since 2005 and has tried 69 cases in his 17 years as a prosecutor.
“I have by far more experience as a prosecutor [than any other candidate] both in trial, in types of cases prosecuted, seriousness of cases… cases that are far more complicated to prosecute,” Barrick said.
The statewide primary elections are on Tuesday, June 7.