To increase accountability and transparency, the American Civil Liberties Union of California launched a campaign to help voters learn more about their district attorneys.
“Hey, Meet Your DA!”—a new campaign launched on August 22 by the American Civil Liberties Union of California—is calling attention to the important role of district attorneys.
As part of this campaign, ACLU of CA is using an interactive website to help Californians find out which DA represents their county. The website provides information on how long DAs have been in office and their positions on certain criminal justice policies. There is also an option for constituents to email their respective DAs directly.
“Many DAs aren’t used to voters paying attention to them,” Ana Zamora, the ACLU of Northern California’s criminal justice policy director, said in an interview with NBC Los Angeles. “The ‘Hey DA Campaign’ in California will change that. DAs in California should expect to start hearing a lot more from their communities.”
In addition to partnering with local organizations, ACLU of CA also teamed up with Grammy award-winning musician John Legend to produce an animated video. Legend and ACLU of CA previously worked together on a campaign to address the issue of mass incarceration.
“Hey, Meet Your DA!” also features a report published by ACLU of CA and Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project [PDF], which revealed DAs have stood in opposition to reforms that their constituents largely supported. The group hopes the report will help the communities better engage local DAs. It suggests ways community members can generate dialogue by participating in town hall meetings, candidate forums, and editorial board meetings.
“We hope this report will enable voters to learn more about the positions of their elected DAs so that they can hold them accountable when they adopt policies that are not in the best interest of the communities they serve,” Fair Punishment Project Director Rob Smith said in a press release.
Because many voters may not know who their DA is or fully understand the power he or she wields, Zamora said the campaign is an effort to change the public perception on the role of DAs.
“People have this idea where they believe that the job of a DA and/or prosecutor is to send people to jail or prison,” she told TechCrunch. “We’re pushing back on that as a myth because a DA is a public servant and their job is to seek justice and not to put people behind bars.”