The City Club of Eugene presents a program on “Equity in the Use of Prosecutorial Discretion”:
What is the role of the District Attorney in our criminal justice system? Are there discretionary powers that allow latitude in charging and prosecuting? How do the policies and procedures of the DA’s office ensure equity and justice for all members of our community, in particular for people of color? Are the reporting practices sufficiently transparent that voters are aware of the values and priorities of their elected DA and how those affect daily decisions in the office?
In the past few years, a number of “progressive” DAs have been elected in Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and elsewhere. If their initiatives have resulted in safer communities, perhaps we can apply similar initiatives here to look beyond prosecution and imprisonment to improve our local criminal justice system. Or maybe the local record demonstrates that concerns about equity are already being addressed effectively. In this program Patricia Perlow and Brook Reinhard will describe the strengths and limitations of local practices and share their views on how prosecutors exercise their discretion in Lane County.
Patricia Perlow is Lane County’s first female elected District Attorney. She was appointed by Governor Brown in August 2015 and was elected in the May 2016 primary after a contested race. She has been a prosecutor in the Lane County District Attorney’s Office since January 1990. As District Attorney, she oversees an office of 73 full time equivalent employees and a budget of more than $11 million, including over $3 million in grants and other funding.
Brook Reinhard runs Public Defender Services of Lane County, a non-profit that for the last 42 years has defended the poor and powerless in the criminal justice system. He began working for a prosecutor’s office in Polk County while in law school, and that experience convinced him of the need for zealous representation for people accused of crimes. He started his career as a public defender in Roseburg, and was promoted to assistant director of that office after four years. He moved back to his hometown of Eugene in 2016 to run Lane County’s office. He supervises 20 defense attorneys and 22 legal support specialists.
Pat Bryan will ask the first question. She is a member of the local chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice).