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Prosecutors’ associations wield legislative influence, hindering reforms.

In April, journalist Josie Duffy Rice highlighted the outsized influence that prosecutors’ associations nationwide have on criminal justice legislation—and how they are using that power to oppose—and sometimes thwart—bipartisan-supported criminal justice reform legislation.Josie Duffy Rice, “Prosecutors Aren’t Just Enforcing the Law—They’re Making It,” The Appeal, April 20, 2018. Also see Jessica Pishko, “Prosecutors Are Banding Together to Prevent Criminal-Justice Reform,” Nation, October 18, 2017.

  • Scott McNamara, the Oneida County, New York, District Attorney and president of the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York, “strongly advised” against supporting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s flagship criminal justice reform package, failed legislation that would have limited civil asset forfeiture, increased discovery, and reduced the use of money bail.Rice, “Prosecutors Aren’t Just Enforcing the Law,” 2018.
  • The California District Attorneys Association supported the “Keep California Safe” initiative. The measure, which failed to gather enough support to make it to the ballot, would have limited Proposition 47, which reduced some nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, which increased parole opportunities for people convicted of nonviolent felonies and gave judges—rather than prosecutors—authority to decide whether to try juveniles as adults.For the Association’s support, see Nicholas Preciado, “Statewide Crime Initiative Gains Local Support,” Benito Link, March 28, 2018. For the initiative’s outcome, see Sal Rodriguez, “‘Keep California Safe’ Initiative Fails to Make the November 2018 Ballot,” Orange County Register, July 2, 2018.
  • The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council has been a consistent proponent of mandatory minimums and harsher sentences.Paulina Pineda and Katie Campbell, “Arizona Resistant To Change In ‘Tough-On-Crime’ Sentencing Laws,” Arizona Capitol Times, March 23, 2018. Maricopa County (Phoenix) Attorney Bill Montgomery was instrumental in amending HB 2312, one of the bills in a package of legislation developed to alter factors the court must consider when determining whether to set aside a conviction, making this limited avenue of relief even more difficult.Pineda and Campbell, “Arizona Resistant To Change,” 2018. For the bill text, including amendments, see Arizona HB 2312 (2018).