It’s election season and there are many options on your ballot this year. Somewhere in the middle there is the candidate(s) for County Attorney.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR COUNTY ATTORNEY? Even more importantly, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE COUNTY ATTORNEY DOES?
If you have no idea what the County Attorney is or does, you’re not alone. In a recent poll, 50% of voters said they had never heard of Bill Montgomery, the County Attorney in Phoenix, the largest city in the state.
The County Attorney (in other states they are called District Attorneys or DA’s) is basically the head prosecutor for a given county. They are the head of the entire County Attorney’s Office, which is an agency consisting of lawyers who prosecute traffic matters and/or misdemeanors, but also, and most importantly, prosecute all felonies occurring within the county. If you are charged with a crime, it’s the County Attorney’s office that prosecutes you.
This is the agency that has the power to incarcerate large segments of the population, and has been the driving force of the surge in mass incarceration. The County Attorney’s Offices also can offer alternatives to detention, diversion programs, and other services. Those programs are completely discretionary, and some counties utilize them more than others.
“In all but four states, prosecutors are elected to office—about 2,400 of them—and many largely run unopposed in counties with strong political-party identification, places where politics are so ingrained that decisions are made well ahead of the voting booth. Party loyalty, tough-on-crime promises, or just electoral indifference—can result in prosecutors who amass and wield enormous amounts of power in the courtroom and beyond.”
Criminal Justice reform has become a very important issue this election. Many voters have expressed interest in reducing mass incarceration, pushing for sentencing reform, and advocating for common sense alternatives to detention.
Do these issues concern you? THIS IS WHY YOUR VOTE FOR COUNTY ATTORNEY IS IMPORTANT.
The first step is for us to educate ourselves about the candidates and their positions on such critical issues as diversion, drug prosecutions, and sentencing reform.
The Arizona Justice Alliance sent out candidate questionnaires to all the Country Attorney candidates in a contested primary elections and compiled their answers for your convenience: 2016 Arizona County Attorney Candidate Comparison.
The following counties have primaries for County Attorney: Coconino, Maricopa, & Pima.
We believe you, the voters, want to know who the candidates are, and where they stand on the issues that are important to you.