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Report Pamela Price’s Achievements in First 75 Days as Alameda County DA

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Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Y. Price front row center) with her Executive Leadership Team, including Chief Assistant District Attorneys Otis Bruce Jr. and Royl L. Roberts. Photo courtesy of Alameda County D.A.'s Office.

 

By Ken Epstein

The all-volunteer transition team supporting the administration of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price has issued a report on the first 75 days of Price’s new administration as she works to implement criminal justice reform, enhance victims’ rights, and overcome the obstacles, disorganization, and inefficiency her administration uncovered when she took over the D.A.’s office in January.

Price made history in November 2022, becoming the first Black woman elected in the county’s history. “She ran on a promise to bring fairness and equality to the justice system…. (which has) left crime victims, with an overrepresentation of people of color, without resolution to their cases…(and) also over criminalized the economically disadvantaged,” the report said.

Some members of the Transition Team of Alameda County's first Black District Attorney issued a 75-day report highlighting some of her accomplishments. Pictured above left to right Ray Bobbitt, Rev. Dr. Harold Orr, Atty. Walter Riley ,Paola Laverde, Rivka Polatnik and Atty. John Scott. Photo by Jonathanfitnessjones.

Some members of the Transition Team of Alameda County’s first Black District Attorney issued a 75-day report highlighting some of her accomplishments. Pictured above left to right Ray Bobbitt, Rev. Dr. Harold Orr, Atty. Walter Riley ,Paola Laverde, Rivka Polatnik and Atty. John Scott. Photo by Jonathanfitnessjones.

She based her reform efforts on the expressed will of Alameda County voters. “Since 2012, the voters of Alameda County have supported criminal justice reforms, such as Prop 36 to reduce the overly harsh penalties of California’s Three-Strikes law, implementing police oversight, and electing reform-minded candidates to other city and county offices,” the transition team’s report said.

The report, released Thursday at a press conference, was prepared by the Communications Committee of Price’s transition team: Barbara Becnel, co-chair; Ray Bobbitt, co-chair; Walter Riley, attorney; John Scott, attorney; and Rev. Harold Orr, M.D.

In an interview with the Oakland Post, Price said she feels particularly good about her efforts to “provide relief to the families and people who were trapped in Santa Rita County jail with no pathway to get mental health services.”

She also has been able to bring on a number of new staff in a short time, “which is unprecedented for this county” and to provide supplies and training for Victims and Witness Advocates. “This is really huge,” she said.

She knows some people want to go back to the old days. “Ms. O’Malley is gone, holding onto the past is not an option,” Price said. “People opposing (these changes) lost the election, but they still want another shot at the apple. However, we’re in the office and doing the work.”

The D.A.’s Office is responsible for prosecuting criminal and specific civil cases for the more than 1.5 million residents in Alameda County. The office operates in nine locations throughout the county’s 800 square miles and is staffed by about 150 attorneys and an inspectors’ division, composed of about 60 experienced peace officers.

Before and after she took office, Price received little support from the previous administration.

“She received little information about office operations, protocols and standards, staff information, and fiscal management.  She has worked to fill these gaps in information while maintaining the critical and essential services that the Office provides,” the report says.

“The previous administration departed without providing comprehensive transition support… (though) it was a reasonable expectation to have the previous administration provide transition support for at least 90 days,” the report said.

The failure of the previous district attorney to provide basic information for the new D.A. included:

  • An up-to-date organizational chart
  • A current personnel roster
  • A current budget
  • Comprehensive reports on the activities of each of the operating units
  • A current list of the office’s contracts or operating agreements
  • A current list of the boards, committees, and task forces that the office participates in or is legally required to staff
  • A tour of the nine facilities that the office operates

Among Price’s key initiatives are support for victims of crime. Her office is improving working conditions and support for Victim-Witness Advocates.

These advocates offer emotional support for crime victims, victims’ rights information, help in finding needed resources and assistance in filling out crime victim-related forms.

“For the first time, the D.A.’s Office will subsidize (advocates’) parking and mileage and (cellphones) … and (sponsor) trauma-informed support training and information about restorative justice strategies for the entire Victim-Witness Advocate workforce.”

To implement fair and equal justice, Price has implemented a policy directive dealing with sentencing enhancements and plea bargains.

“Contrary to a false narrative, D.A. Price did not eliminate sentencing enhancements. She simply requires a case-by-case review of the appropriateness of sentencing enhancement(s) to ensure sentencing balance,” according to the report.

Price’s office has also “expanded the unit responsible for reviewing prior convictions including felony murder and serious crime cases for resentencing under the legislative mandate to eliminate disparity of sentences,” the report said.

The D.A.’s Office is improving technology to enable law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and the D.A.’s Office to share and track reports of child abuse.

Price has also expanded the types of cases pursued by the Consumer Environmental Worker Protection division to protect consumers, workers, tenants, and the environment.

To begin to hold police accountable, the D.A. has “established a protocol for officer-involved shooting reviews and updating the officer-involved shooting policy … (and) expanded the Public Accountability Unit, which announced eight investigations into officer-involved deaths,” the report said.

“In the first 60 days of the new administration, there have been four in-custody deaths at Santa Rita County jail,” the report said. “In addition, the office inherited numerous active cases of misconduct by police or public officials.”

To address mental health issues in communities, “The Office launched a community-based, countywide Mental Health Commission to advise the District Attorney on its response to Alameda County’s mental health crisis,” according to the report.

The Office (has already) “identified at least 37 people found incompetent to stand trial housed at Santa Rita County jail, (in order to) to provide them with services including housing placements and referrals,” the report said.

The post Report Pamela Price’s Achievements in First 75 Days as Alameda County DA first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.

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