The District Attorney decides whether someone will get charged and with what, who will enter the prison system and who will go free. It’s a powerful role in Oregon law enforcement.
I serve on the transition team for Mike Schmidt, the new Multnomah County District Attorney.
I endorsed Mike for District Attorney because he ran on a reform platform advocating for criminal justice and protecting civil liberties. His overwhelming win was a victory for all of our communities.
This became clear when he recently announced the DA’s office will not prosecute protestors unless they are charged with serious crimes, including “deliberate property damage, theft or the use of threat or force against someone else.”
I support this same approach for the City of Gresham. We will not tolerate violence, destruction of property, or hate speech from anyone in our city.
Here is our current reality:
- Black residents are much more likely to be sent to jail for both felonies and misdemeanors.
- Black and Latino residents are more likely to sit in jail while waiting for trial because they cannot afford bail.
We can change this reality with good policy and effective leadership. And as part of Mike’s transition team, I am advocating for four immediate reforms:
- End cash bail. Right now, many people charged with a crime must pay a fee for release from prison while they wait for their trial. People who can’t post the bail fee sit in a jail cell until their court date. This can cost them their job, their car, their housing, their family, and more. Multnomah County must join other jurisdictions (such as those in Alaska, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.) who have ended cash bail.
- Stop trying young people as adults. Treating children like adults in the criminal justice system does not make our community safer. No one’s interest is served by locking up a child we could have put on a better path.
- We need more public defenders. Everyone is entitled to legal counsel. Today, public defenders have so many cases on their plates at once that they can’t give each client the attention they need. Defendants need real representation to protect them. We’ve got to stop giving public defenders more cases than they can possibly address.
- Stop prosecuting people for misdemeanor charges. Sending people to prison for small, non-violent crimes is damaging families and communities. It often locks people into a cycle of poverty, debt, and future criminal activity. I support mandated addiction or mental health counseling for these minor crimes.
Mike won his election by promising serious reforms, and I’m proud to be a part of that process. I will continue to build on my relationship with the District Attorney’s office to see these reforms through. Together, let’s build a city that’s safe, healthy, and thriving for everyone.