Tag Archives: Clackamas County District Attorney

L.A. County Learns a Lesson from Clackamas County: ICE Warrants Can Get You Sued

By William Street, HD 40 Co-Leader

Clackamas County shows up in curious places. There we were on page 39 of 48 of CV 12-09012-AB (FFMx) Date February 7, 2018 DUNCAN ROY ET AL. V. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL. This time it was L.A. County learning what we know: ICE warrants are voluntary and to honor them exposes the Sheriff’s Department to wrongful imprisonment lawsuits.

Clackamas County was one of the first counties nationally to learn this lesson. It cost us county taxpayers more than $100,000. Now L.A. County knows what we know. Continue reading

Systematic Racism in Clackamas County

Racism takes many forms. The overt one — a cross burning on the yard, bank refusing to loan in certain neighborhoods, and having to ride in the back of the bus — are easy to spot. The covert ones are equally insidious and almost as damaging to the soul because they are nearly invisible. This contributes to victims blaming themselves for their condition rather than the system and individuals who gain from and support racist ideals and practices.

In Clackamas County a number of situations may fall into the latter category. For example, the percentage of first nation populations and African Americans who are incarcerated for various crimes is many times larger than the rate for whites. Next to unconstitutional actions by ICE, minor drug offenses are the most glaring case.

Native Americans of our fair county between 2013 and 2016 wound up in jail at more than twice the rate of white residents, and African Americans end up incarnated at three times the rate of white citizens. Yet all three populations have the same drug usage rates.

Our District Attorney, when confronted with this reality, instead of acknowledging the problem and seeking solutions went into denial. He attacked the study released by the governor that identified the racial discrepancy in incarceration rates. He challenged the numbers and blamed law enforcement officers.

He also engaged in identical behaviors when law enforcement officers statewide called for a shift in drug enforcement policy to a mental health approach recognizing that prison is not rehab and the foundational problems of drug abuse and the crime it spawns are addiction.

At a public hearing for the county to adopt an inclusivity resolution supported by the Sheriff’s Department and the county commissioners, in what appeared to be a direct violation of state law, our DA bragged about partnering with ICE to deport our citizens of color without the constitutional protections guaranteed them by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If equality before the law is not color blind, if in our county one can be found, in the words of Trevor Noah, “guilty of driving while black,” then not only is our county routinely engaged in systematic racist behaviors, but we are also undermining the very foundation of our democracy.

In a county that is predominately white, it is easy not to see the undermining of civil and human rights, especially when led by the chief law enforcement agent in the county, the DA. It is easy to “overlook” racism promoted by the U.S. president. It is easy to see the victims of institutionalized discrimination as the “other” people.

We seem them just as easily as we see homeless vets, families living out of their cars, and all the others who have been victimized by a consumer society. Where money is king, too often our primary value becomes what can we afford to buy today. No, we say to ourselves, they are not us.

But they are us. For too many of us are but a medical emergency away from homelessness. Our social media are full of calls to send money to help those in our social network. If our sons or daughters were destitute, rarely would we blame them. Instead we could see the forces aligned against them. But when it is a Native American or African American, it is all too easy to blame the victims. Continue reading

Can We Learn from Philadelphia?

Philadelphia’s DA-Elect Larry Krasner

Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia County may have just elected the most progressive District Attorney in the country.

His campaign focused on a change in priorities.

For far too long the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has been driven by a win-at-any-cost culture that prioritizes high conviction rates and harsh sentencing over more effective approaches that are proven to reduce crime. While re-focusing the DA’s Office on prosecuting serious crimes, he will seek alternatives to incarceration — dramatically reducing the number of prisoners held, saving millions of tax dollars.

Continue reading

Clackamas DA Changes Tune With Measure 91 Passage

open cell with marijuanaJoining his colleagues in Multnomah County who dropped 50 cases last week, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote has announced he is dropping 12 pending marijuana cases now that the pro-marijuana initiative has passed; it will take effect in seven months. That’s July 1, 2015.

Measure 91 saw mixed opposition and support. Hard to ask a DA to suddenly do a 180 on the weed. Cursory research doesn’t reveal if Foote took a position. If he did, it wasn’t prominent. He did, however, lead the successful opposition to a legislative measure last year that would have reduced marijuana case sentences and devoted a great deal of time and money to drug rehab programs. No, Bro Foote doesn’t want to appear soft on crime.

Look for other Oregon counties to follow the lead now that at least two DAs from big counties are acknowledging a reality over which they have little control. By the way, your Clackamas Democrats endorsed passage of this measure.

Finally, Oregon is already fairly gentle on marijuana, unlike Texas or other states where a 1-ounce baggie will get you five-to-ten. No, many folks will be staying home now.