The Problem: Prosecutors have very little oversight (See our report on district attorney transparency).
Policies that guide the work in districtattorneys’ (DA) offices matter. The choices that individual DAs make about how their offices are run and how their prosecutors operate profoundly impact the lives of Oregonians. The policies and practices of DAs can be the difference between whether or not crime victims get access to critical services that help them rebuild their lives, whether or not young people areheld accountable in a way that protects future life-possibilities, whether people of color are treated fairly, or whether children keep contact and connection with their parents.
But There is currently no requirement in Oregon that DA offices have publicly available policies that create reasonable transparency about the core functions of their office. Without meaningful and public policies and guidelines, unchecked prosecutorial discretion can lead to unequal treatment, rogue prosecutors, confusion for victims and defendants, and the inabilityof Oregonians to understandand effectively question what’s happening in our justice system.
The Solution: HB 3224
The formal or informal policies that guide prosecutorial practices of DA offices shouldn’t be a mystery.
This legislation requires every district attorney to create policies for the core functions of their office and make them available to the public. Oregonians deserves greater transparency from the most powerful actors in our criminal justice system.