Oregon DA for the People Open Letter

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Join us and tell the next District Attorney that we need to transform the justice system in Washington County.

To the future District Attorney of Washington County,

We are the Oregon DA for the People Coalition, members of the community who are dedicated to ending mass incarceration and the harm it does to our communities. Washington County’s over-reliance on incarceration and harsh punishment exacts enormous financial, emotional, and social costs on our people while making all of us less safe.

We need a new definition of justice and the District Attorney is the single most important actor in what justice looks like in our communities. District Attorneys hold the power at each stage of criminal proceedings—from charging decisions to the sentences they seek to impose—and wield profound influence as civic leaders and policymakers.

We demand that our next lead prosecutor do more than talk about progressive policies, we need real concrete commitments to:

  • Hold police accountable
    Police need to be held accountable for their actions. The district attorney must be committed to rigorously and independently investigating and prosecuting police and other official misconduct. The DA should create an independent Public Integrity Unit that will investigate and prosecute alleged instances of public corruption, fraud, police shootings, or other abuses of power to ensure that police act in the community knowing they will be held accountable for their actions.
  • Create real diversion
    The criminal justice system is not equipped to handle the social and health issues that land many people in prison and jail and yet Washington County continues to use “diversion” that exacts a poverty penalty, requires a conviction, and ultimately excludes undocumented immigrants because of the guilty plea requirement. We need a District Attorney that doesn’t use incarceration as a tool of first resort, but makes our communities stronger by creating diversion that doesn’t require a conviction and takes into account a defendant’s ability to pay.
  • End the use of non-unanimous juries
    Non-unanimous juries are a legacy of Oregon’s racist past, reflecting the desire to prevent non-white jurors from influencing convictions. The only other state that allows for non-unanimous juries- Louisiana- is currently working to get rid of them. Convictions from non-unanimous juries undermine the basic presumptions of our criminal justice system and  fundamentally have no place in our courts today. The Washington County District Attorney must not only publicly and zealously support legislation or a ballot measure seeking to end non-unanimous juries but instruct their prosecutors to ask for unanimous juries in all cases. 
  • Never hold material witnesses
    Washington County has abused the Oregon law that allows for prosecutors to hold someone in jail in order to ensure they serve as a witness and testify in a criminal court proceeding. We need next District Attorney that refuses to incarcerate innocent parties in order to secure convictions. 
  • Treat kids like kids
    Children should not be prosecuted in adult court, nor should they be given punishments that preclude the opportunity for redemption. Children’s brains continue developing until around the age of 25 and research supports their enhanced capacity for rehabilitation. The next Washington County District Attorney should never seek life without parole or any practically equivalent sentence, for any person under the age of 18; they should keep children under 18 in juvenile court; refuse to prosecute children for in-school conduct where there is no use of force resulting in serious physical harm; and advocate to raise the age of juvenile court to 25.


#OregonDAForThePeople     #SmartJusticeforWashCo

Signed by:

Irene Kalonji
Founder, Pacific Northwest Family Circle

Alex Wyrick
Organizer, Criminal Justice League of Washington County

Laura Wadlin
Criminal Justice League of Washington County

Jolene Guptil
Beaverton Social Justice League

Monta Knudson
Bridges to Change

Tamia Deary
Executive Director, PDX Alliance for Self-Care

Renee Rameu
North Plains Grassroots

Julie B Bosworth
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in Oregon

Jill Smith
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Forest Grove

Daniel Lewkow

Cameron Whitten

April Christian

Madeline Carroll
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) PDX

Hayley Weed
Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) PDX

Monika Brown
Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) PDX

Angie Fugere
Showing Up For Racial Justice, (SURJ) PDX

Sarah Crumb
Showing Up For Racial Justice, (SURJ) PDX

Asher Freeman
Showing Up For Racial Justice, (SURJ) PDX

Kelly Iverson
Showing Up For Racial Justice, (SURJ) PDX

Catherine Jessee
Showing Up For Racial Justice, (SURJ) PDX

Kathy Kniep
Kathy Kniep Consulting / Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) PDX

Claire Bosworth
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) PDX

Zadok Taylor
People Places Things

Julia Martinez
MSW Candidate, PSU

 



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