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District Attorney

Who are they?

The District Attorney is an elected official. The current DA is Nancy O’Malley. She has held this position since 2010.

What do they do?

The District Attorney holds immense power in deciding the future of an individual, their family, loved ones, and larger community because their job is to decide whether to charge someone of a crime and if so, for what crimes.

 

How do their actions impact the community?

The District Attorney has the power to decide to...

  • Choose alternatives to incarceration, such as restorative justice or substance use programs, keep families together, and allow people to heal and repair harm in community support systems OR Pander to touch on crime edicts that feed into mass incarceration. 

  • Hold accountable and prosecute the police OR Let the police off the hook so they can continue causing harm. 

  • Decide to charge the highest charge so someone is forced to take a plea deal out of fear of receiving the highest sentence OR Charge for lesser crimes.

All these decisions have impacts on the community. 

So, what can YOU do to hold the DA accountable? 

  • Follow the DA elections and vote in the Primaries. Not sure if you’re registered? Check out your status/sign up at https://www.acvote.org/voting/register-to-vote

  • Follow JRC on our Social Media page and sign up for notifications.

  • Do you have a loved one impacted by incarceration and want to join our community meetings with the DA? Reach out to _____ to join our meetings.

Looking for more educational resources? Here are some to get you started!

  1. In(Justice) in Alameda County: A Case for Reform and Accountability

    1. Even if you just read the first three pages of content (4-6), you will get a great base understanding of what power the DA has and how they have failed to meet the needs of Black and Brown communities, as they were created to uphold systems of white supremacy.

  2. Two-Pager of the Report

    1. This is a great summary of the report above, if you don't have the time to read all 45 pages. 

  1. Meet Your District Attorney: Virtual Town Hall with Nancy O'Malley

    1. In the Spring of 2021, the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County hosted a virtual Town Hall with District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. Watch this video on our Facebook page to hear what the community demanded of DA Nancy O'Malley!

  1. Meet Your DA website by the ACLU

    1. This website explains what the role of a district attorney is and how they serve (or don’t) the communities they represent. You can also look up the DA in your district (you can go find Alameda County!) and compare their stance on California propositions related to incarceration with the voice of the public. 

  2. Meet Your DA Video 

    1. This video is a great visual explaining the role of the district attorney, their power, and some eye-opening statistics about how the DA fuels mass incarceration, or can combat it.

  1. Justice In America Podcast Episode 3: Who Built Mass Incarceration? Prosecutors

    1. This is a great introductory podcast to the role and immense power of prosecutors in the legal system. A district Attorney is one type of prosecutor. 

  2. Justice In America Podcast Episode 2: The 94% – Plea Deals

    1. Did you know that only about 6% of people arrested for a crime go in front of a jury? Because the police arrest an absurd amount of people, it would be impossible for every person to go to court–there just aren’t enough resources. So, the district attorney offers for someone to plea guilty for a crime, even if they didn’t commit it. This podcast goes into some of the reasons why someone would take a plea deal, and all the rippling effects these plea deals have on someone’s life and the lack of transparency of the DA’s office.

Image by C D-X

Past wins include... 

  • Immigrant Policy Change & Training 

    • DAs can’t hold deportation over someone’s head to keep them in jail and/or on probation longer. Nancy O’Malley worked with one of JRCoalition partners, Immigration Legal Resource Center, to train her line DAs about how to implement this new immigrant policy. 

  • #CureTheConflict

    • Pledge to not take money from law enforcement unions for DA campaign.

  • Intervention: halted youth transfers

    • Three successful cases that community organizations brought to the District Attorney asking to keep kids in juvenile court. This problem would be solved altogether if there were a blanket that no youth can be prosecuted as an adult.

When is the election cycle?

The District Attorney is elected by the citizens of Alameda County every four years, with the next election happening in 2022. However, on the occasion that the position is vacated due to the current District Attorney retiring, resigning, or passing away, a new District Attorney will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. This candidate will then be “affirmed” by voters during the next election cycle. However, many times the candidate runs unopposed because no one is eligible, or they don’t think they can win against the “incumbent” candidate (even though this “incumbent” candidate has only held office for a short time). You must have a law degree to run for DA.

 

The most important part of the DA race starts in June, during the Democratic primaries. Whoever wins the vote in June will be the Democratic candidate on the ballot in November. Because Alameda County usually votes blue, the DA race often happens between two democratic candidates, rather than between a Democrat and Republican. This is why the DA race is often determined in July during the primaries, rather than November during the general elections. 

 

For example, during the last election cycle in 2018, Nancy O’Malley and Pamela Price ran against each other in June for the Democratic DA candidate; Nancy O’Malley won by a slim margin. In November, O’Malley ran uncontested because there was no Repubican or Independent candidate on the ballot.  

 

DA O’Malley in the past has received generous donations from law enforcement unions, questioning whether she would hold cops accountable who murder people of Alameda County–especially Black and Brown people. In 2018, she was tasked with investigating two cases against Fremont police officers for shooting Nana Adomako and Elena Mondragon. That year, the Fremont police union donated the most money of any law enforcement union to O’Malley’s campaign: $10,000. Shortly after, DA O’Malley cleared the officers that shot and killed Mondragon, an unarmed 16-year old girl. She requested an independent review by the Attorney general for Adomako’s case. According to the East Bay Times, the Oakland Police Officers Association donated $9,500; the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County donated $8,500; the Livermore police officer union gave $2,500; and the San Leandro Berkeley police unions each gave $1,000. These generous donations show how the DA collaborates closely with law enforcement, even when part of their job is to supposedly hold killer cops accountable. Recently, DA O’Malley did pledge to no longer receive campaign donations from law enforcement unions; however, this is a small victory when she has refused to hold murderous cops accountable and stop them from perpetuating more harm. 

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Who is running for DA in 2022?

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this is where we would put report card?