District attorneys could be described as the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. They have the authority to decide whether to charge someone with a crime, to determine the quantity and seriousness of charges, and essentially set prison terms in the majority of cases that end with a plea deal. Consequently, since the 1980’s DA’s have contributed more than any other elected official to the quadrupling of individuals incarcerated.
Across the country, voters are electing nontraditional prosecutors. Recent years have seen a new crop of candidates pushing back against the “tough on crime” attitude of their predecessors, and running on so-called “progressive” platforms. Post-election rulings, however, frequently contradict such change-making platforms.
We need DA’s who will do the right thing, not just say what will please liberal voters. This event will address the roles progressive DA’s can play in dismantling the prison industrial complex, how communities can organize around electing actual criminal-justice reformers, and examine how we can hold those elected accountable to their promises of reform.