Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic Together
More than ever, we need leadership that can focus on the essential task of protecting public safety. Like many of our core services, Multnomah County’s criminal justice system is being fundamentally impacted by the pandemic. Our county public safety professionals and the current District Attorney, Rod Underhill, have already taken important steps to protect the people, but more work will be needed in the coming months and years.
Our statewide Stay at Home order is meant to save lives, and there are several resources in place for those whose homes are not a safe place. Unfortunately, with fewer mandatory reporters in contact with vulnerable children and with many victims of domestic violence trapped with their abusers, many in our community are unsafe. We need to do our best to ensure that these vulnerable populations are protected.
But what comes next?
When our next District Attorney takes office in January, the immediate threat of the pandemic will have likely dissipated. But even if we are able to move beyond social distancing, the disruption to our lives will continue for years. The backlog of criminal cases that were deferred, budget shortfalls from reduced tax revenues, increased criminal activity from social and economic hardship, disruption of our social safety net, and continuing uncertainty will all impact the work of the office. These circumstances will demand strong, knowledgeable leadership.
To that end, we will also need to focus on reentry programs. In times of social disruption, it is especially important to support everyone who comes in contact with the criminal justice system. And while continuing those services during a pandemic is difficult and will compete for valuable resources in this environment, we need to make it a priority to keep our community safe.
I have over 20 years of experience as a prosecutor and I have prosecuted some of the most significant cases in our state’s history - I have confronted serious challenges in our system before. I have the support of the frontline workers who ensure our public safety every day, and I’m proud to be endorsed by our current District Attorney. Rod knows, as I do, that even once the dust has settled, there will be more work to do in response to the pandemic and that only an experienced leader can be an advocate for the discrete issues that come with the job.
The next Multnomah County District Attorney has their work cut out for them. I’m ready.