PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Independent candidate Lisa Middleman knows it’s uphill, defeating Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala this November.

But she is passionate about her cause.

“I want to be district attorney because the criminal justice system is broken,” Middleman told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday. “The outdated policies of the ’90s don’t work. They haven’t worked for years.”

A public defender with years of experience in criminal court defending those accused of homicide, the Highland Park native says prosecution can be more humane and fair.

“We don’t have to put everyone in jail. We don’t have to have criminal convictions for every misdeed,” she said. “There are people in the jails who are suffering. They suffer from addiction. They suffer from mental illness, homelessness, joblessness, poverty. Those people need treatment and support, not criminal convictions.”

Middleman has staked out strong positions on a number of issues, like no prosecution for marijuana possession.

“It’s a waste of time, energy and effort to prosecute people for possession of marijuana,” says Middleman. “I would much rather use that time, energy, effort, and money to prosecute violent crime.”

But Middleman also believes the DA over-prosecutes people of color.

“Fifty percent of the people in the Allegheny county jail are black despite the fact that only 10 to 12 percent of the population in Allegheny County is black,” she said.

Is that because blacks commit more crimes than others?

Middleman says no, and as DA she will conduct studies to show that.

If elected, she also will not cooperate with ICE or immigration officials.

“I will not give them access to my files, absent a court order. I will not tell them or inform them if an individual involved in any case has a questionable immigrations status.”

She also opposes the death penalty.

“For moral, ethical, professional, financial reasons, I am opposed to the death penalty, yes,” she said.

Delano: “Even in the case of those who shoot and kill police officers?”

Middleman: “Yes.”