PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As a lead victim’s advocate for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office quit over the office’s severe understaffing, KOIN 6 News investigated how this touches on the larger ideological battle raging in Oregon over how tough on crime the state should be.
Under Governor Kate Brown and the legislature, they have moved to nearly eliminate the death penalty and weaken Measure 11’s automatic sentencing. That includes the governor’s effort to give hundreds of violent inmates convicted as juveniles the chance to apply for early release.
District Attorney Mike Schmidt is a part of that movement to concentrate more on rehabilitation versus incarceration. Supporters believe that will save the state money in the long run and address racial inequities in the system.
Schmidt is often in opposition to the Oregon District Attorney’s Association which has argued Measure 11 is color blind and is concerned victim’s rights are being trampled.
In 2021, KOIN 6 News interviewed other local law enforcement leaders who were concerned about Schmidt.
“He has no experience in leadership in a large office like that either. It’s complicated. There’s so many things going on. So many things, every case a DA’s office has, you know, even our office handled six or 7,000 a year. They handle many more. Every one of those cases is important to the people involved the victims and the defendants and doing it right matters to them,” former Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said.
Before he was district attorney, Schmidt was the executive director of the governor’s Criminal Justice Commission tasked with reforming the justice system.
Last week, the governor sent a letter to the District Attorney’s Association saying she instructed her victim impact liaison to do additional victim and survivor outreach due to many victim families dealing with the news the inmate who harmed them has applied for clemency.