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A former prosecutor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran said Tuesday that he will challenge Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer to become Orange County’s top prosecutor next year in a race that is poised to test the climate for justice reform in a county that has historically favored tough-on-crime policies.

Peter Hardin, 42, announced his candidacy at a media briefing outside the Lamoreaux Justice Center and Juvenile Hall in Orange on Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by dozens of supporters holding blue and orange signs bearing the attorney’s name.

With his son by his side, Hardin outlined his catalog of ideas, including ending cash bail, halting the practice of prosecuting children as adults and abolishing the use of the death penalty. These policies, he says, will help bring the county’s justice system into the 21st Century.

“I’m running to enhance public safety, heal and restore our victims and survivors of crime, and restore integrity and professionalism to the Orange County district attorney’s office,” Hardin said. “I know that being a guardian of justice means doing the right thing all the time however difficult it may be. Across America we are facing a national reckoning with an outdated and ineffective criminal justice system. We have turned to prisons and punishment and turned our back on rehabilitation, support and redemption.”

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