They Report to You is a criminal justice reform campaign led by the ACLU of Oregon. We are working to improve our criminal justice system by redefining the role of district attorneys, increasing voter engagement with these important elected positions, and advocating for reforms that appropriately balance the enormous power and discretion of prosecutors.
We believe Oregon should have a system that is more effective, fair, and just. Ineffective, “tough on crime” strategies like the War on Drugs need to be shifted to smart on crime strategies with more emphasis on prevention, treatment, and access to mental health services. We need a system that treats everyone fairly.
We also need more transparency. Roughly ninety percent of cases don’t get resolved in court but instead get resolved through plea agreements, behind closed doors where prosecutors have enormous power.
Let’s build a system that holds people accountable while also helping people rebuild their lives. We know a focus on building and filling prisons won’t make us safer. We believe in a more fiscally-responsible approach that is grounded in the research of what works, not a focus on harsher punishments. We want our criminal justice system to better reflects Oregonians’ values.
District attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system, and they are also elected officials. But until now, DAs have largely flown under the radar of voters. DAs have virtually unchecked power and operate with little transparency or accountability.
High levels of job security, tremendous power, and a lack of accountability is a bad combination for democracy and for justice.
Oregonians support reforming our criminal justice system, and district attorneys (DAs) have the ability to make important changes. Although a number district attorneys are open to moving our justice system forward, many are unwilling to shift away from bad policies and practices. Ultimately, DAs need more engagement with voters if we will be able to improve Oregon’s approach to public safety and justice.
It’s time voters define what we want and expect from the most powerful individuals in the justice system. After all, district attorneys should report to us! We need to hold them accountable and work with them to reform our system.
To make this happen, we are working to:
Educate Oregonians about the role DAs play.