Join Hobie Crystle as he fights to fix our broken criminal justice system.

Meet Hobie Crystle

My three siblings and I had very happy childhoods growing up in Lancaster Township. My father was an obstetrician and my mother was a nurse. I am a proud product of the public schools here; I graduated from McCaskey in 1981. I learned about the value of different perspectives and creative problem-solving. At McCaskey, we had a diverse student body. I learned to be comfortable with all different kinds of people, and ​I learned to listen to people.​ That has also helped me in my career.

I majored in Latin American Studies at Wesleyan and learned to speak Spanish. After college, I went to Washington, D.C., where I worked as a criminal investigator for court-appointed Attorneys in the District of Columbia.​ ​Many of the lawyers who I worked for there just went through the motions and did not care about what happened with their clients.​ ​That experience showed me that not everyone gets the same representation. My frustration upon witnessing a legal system that doesn’t serve people motivated me to go to law school to become a public defender. ​I wanted to work towards the ideal of equal justice under the law.

In 1996, I moved home to Lancaster to be with my parents, as my dad was struggling with cancer.​ ​I joined the Lancaster County Public Defender’s Office. I started my own practice because ​I wanted more freedom to stand up for the values of my community.​ I still represent people in the criminal justice system; I have also represented people in civil rights actions. I met my law partner by working together on a wrongful death case which occurred at the Lancaster County Prison in 1998. We have worked to hold the County Prison accountable and help reform its practices. We have had over a dozen similar cases over the years, and there is still a lot of work to do.

I believe the idea of equal justice under the law includes the principles of fairness and impartiality.​ These principles remind me of the Book of Proverbs, where we are called to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute,” and to “speak up and judge fairly and defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs, 31, 8-9). I have taken that to heart in my career as a Defense Attorney and will continue to heed that call as the District Attorney.

Issues

Hobie Crystle is running for Lancaster County District Attorney because he knows it’s time for the criminal justice system to start serving us the way it was intended to– and to stop wasting taxpayer money on solutions that don’t work. We have a unique chance through Hobie to change the culture of the District Attorney’s office, creating a criminal justice system that is fair, empathetic to our community’s needs, and that works for everyone.

Mental health and addiction problems are public health problems solved by treatment, not incarceration.

The opioid crisis is an urgent public health problem in our county. Addiction to drugs or alcohol has touched too many families in our community, and too often a lack of access to treatment leads to incarceration, depression, or suicide. ​Hobie knows that addiction needs to be treated as the community health crisis it is, and not as a criminal matter.

We all know people who are struggling with addiction, and we want those people to get better. People do not get better in a jail cell. ​Our justice system punishes people who suffer from addiction instead of helping them. This costs too much and doesn’t work. ​Hobie is an advocate for treatment—rather than punishment—for people struggling with addiction.​ As District Attorney, Hobie will make many more addiction-related cases eligible for the Lancaster County Drug Court, which oversees treatment and then dismisses charges. This program will help Lancaster County families stay together.

We need to stop acting like a jail cell is the only tool in our toolbox. The biggest problem with our nation’s broken criminal justice system, including here in Lancaster County, is that we put people in jail who are not a danger to the community. That is fundamentally unfair and only leads to isolation from the community and bitterness. This does not make us safer. We need to be much smarter about how we use jail. Putting someone in prison has a ripple effect on the entire community, and it costs us $40,000 per year. As District Attorney, Hobie will focus on locking up the bad guys and helping out those who can be helped. After 30 years of experience working with his neighbors in Lancaster, he can tell the difference.

Lancaster County gives out longer periods of probation than almost all other counties in Pennsylvania. Thousands of people get trapped in unnecessarily long probation sentences and wind up back in jail over minor mistakes. This isn’t justice. Long probation sentences bog down the justice system and waste taxpayer money. Hobie is committed to common-sense probation reforms that set community members up to succeed. ​ He is committed to making the criminal justice system fair for everyone.

The cash bail system has created two criminal justice systems: one for the haves, and another for the have-nots.​ When people are saddled with cash bail they cannot pay, they lose their job, their apartment, their car— and maybe their relationships and their kids. In the end, the taxpayer pays because the families left behind go on welfare or into public housing, and the kids go into foster care. As District Attorney, Hobie will eliminate cash bail for small offenses, where the crime wouldn’t require a jail sentence even if convicted.