The pivotal work of District Attorneys

Among the most powerful figures in the criminal justice system.

District Attorneys’ (DAs) central role is to ensure that people are held accountable for harm against others. This also applies to accountability among law enforcement, including holding police accountable in cases of misconduct.

They ultimately decide who gets charged with a crime, who can access drug treatment over prison, whether to prosecute a young person as an adult, and whether to pursue the death penalty.

With this immense discretion, district attorneys can play an important role in making our public safety approach more fair and effective.

Who are District Attorneys?

District Attorneys (DAs) are the chief law enforcement officers for each of Oregon’s 36 counties, representing state government in the prosecution of adult and juvenile criminal offenses. Their offices also are responsible for victims services and enforcing child support collection.

Why are District Attorneys important in reforming the public safety system?

The District Attorney leads a staff of prosecutors — deputy district attorneys who investigate and prosecute criminals on behalf of the district attorney. The prosecution presents a case against a person who is responsible for causing harm or who is suspected of breaking the law. District Attorneys also initiate and direct criminal investigations, guide and recommend sentencing, and are the only attorneys allowed to participate in grand jury proceedings.

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© 2018 Safety and Justice Action Fund and PAC