Today, we find ourselves in a vastly different position than we were exactly one year ago. The global pandemic resulting from the coronavirus is having a drastic and significant impact on our criminal justice system. This office quickly and responsibly implemented sweeping operational changes to protect the health and well-being of our employees and community. As a result of those prudent and intentional changes, we have minimized – to the best of our ability – any resource and service interruptions. We continue to stridently serve our community in the midst of this pandemic because our mission and dedication remains unchanged. I can only describe the efforts of our team as remarkable. They adapted quickly and professionally to ensure our justice system remained open and fair to all individuals as we balanced and continued to support the needs of public health, public safety and crime victims.
This informational budget packet for FY21, will give you an understanding of the work we do each day. It will also highlight our programs and initiatives that continue to provide positive outcomes for justice involved individuals and for our community. Our programs – working collaboratively with system and community-based partners – strive to lessen the impacts of the criminal justice system. The benefits of these efforts, as demonstrated through the Multnomah County Justice Reinvestment Program (MCJRP), continue to position our jurisdiction as a national leader for the responsible use of jail and prison beds, among other issues.
During FY20, we continued to prioritize our commitment to protecting the rights of vulnerable and underserved populations. Multnomah County was the first jurisdiction in Oregon to issue and then secure a conviction under the state’s new bias crime law. We know these crimes have a profound impact on not only the victim but on the community as well. In one of our cases this year, the victim, an immigrant and restaurant owner, was threatened, subjected to hate speech, mocked and assaulted all because she spoke Spanish. Our victim advocates work closely with the restaurant owner to support, guide and provide her resources. When it came to sentencing, the victim shut down her restaurant – her only source of income – so she could come downtown and address the court in person. In moments like this I am reminded of the importance of supporting crime victims.
To that end, in FY20, our victim advocates assisted more than 3,000 crime victims. In the Domestic Violence Unit alone we had more than 1,500 cases that were assigned a victim advocate.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is committed to the open and balanced administration of justice – one that honors and respects diversity in all of its forms – and works diligently to protect children and victims of crime.
We face considerable challenges in the immediate and long-term future as a result of the coronavirus. These demands will strain and test our entire criminal justice system. I am confident, however, that the staff of the district attorney’s office will be able to overcome these hardships with the professionalism and unwavering commitment to public service that I have seen firsthand over the last seven years as your district attorney. A lot has changed in the criminal justice system since I first joined the district attorney’s office more than 30 years ago. I am proud of the work we have accomplished and the work that we will continue to achieve. With continued support and resources, this office will remain a national leader when it comes to effecting positive and meaningful change within the criminal justice system while being deeply rooted in supporting crime victims and their families.