February 2, 2022
Elisabeth Shepard, Communications Director
DA Mike Schmidt administration provides testimony on Transforming Justice legislation
PORTLAND, Oregon – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office (MCDA) Policy Director Aaron Knott provided testimony in the Oregon State Senate Committee on Judiciary on SB 1510 which would deliver several key reforms to the criminal justice system with the express objective of transforming justice across diverse communities.
“As we address our public safety challenges with an eye towards equity, harm reduction, and improved outcomes across Oregon, we must focus our efforts on addressing these disparities across all systems,” MCDA Policy Director Aaron Knott stated.
“Too often, this work fails to adequately include the communities most impacted, overemphasizing the perspectives of system-based and law enforcement actors, including prosecutors, and underemphasizing the perspectives of those most impacted by the decisions being made.” Knott continued.
SB 1510 is the product of a board stakeholder process including representatives from across the spectrum in terms of role in the criminal justice system from enforcement to lived experience. It offers a range of carefully tailored and thoroughly negotiated proposals narrowly designed to target known points of inequity throughout the criminal justice system, from the traffic code to the use of consent searches to strategic investments in services.
“MCDA supports SB 1510 in the interest of lowering racial disparities in our system and ultimately reducing the number of crime victims in our communities while holding those that cause harm accountable,” Knott stated.
The bill requires consent for all searches, transitions certain traffic violations to secondary offenses meaning individuals, for example, may not be stopped for a broken taillight alone – effectively targeting a practice which is known to disproportionately impact communities of color while doing little to advance public safety.
It secures adequate training for parole and probation officers to ensure their clients are successful across diverse communities, in effect lowering recidivism rates and the number of crime victims.
Finally, it expands state investment in culturally specific, community-based providers who work directly with impacted populations to provide critical services to curb over-reliance on criminal solutions to community problems by establishing the Justice Reinvestment Equity Program. This is a powerful departure from historic barriers to funding experienced by these providers in favor of more traditional public safety institutions.
The bill has received its first public hearing and remains under consideration in the Oregon State Senate Committee on Judiciary.
View full hearing by clicking here.