TUCSON, ARIZONA – April 12, 2021 – Today, the Pima County Attorney’s Office (PCAO) commemorated the first 100 days of Laura Conover’s leadership by thanking the 300-plus employees returning to the Legal Services Building, and with optimism for what’s to come.
On Jan. 1, 2021, Laura officially took Office with a bold agenda for reform that included an end to seeking capital punishment in Pima County, diverting those experiencing mental illness or substance use disorders out of the legal system, launching the state’s first adult restorative justice program, and making PCAO more representative of the people we serve.
In spite of the challenges Laura and her leadership team have faced – including a Covid outbreak that kept the Office shuttered for weeks – tangible, significant changes have been made in the administration of justice and the culture of the Office. Those include:
- a dismantling of the capital homicide panel that once facilitated death penalty cases. There are no remaining PCAO cases in which the death penalty is being sought, and there will be no such cases under the current leadership;
- the launch of the PCAO Fraud Unit, which leads a new Southern Arizona Anti-Fraud Task Force that has already begun educating some of our most vulnerable residents to help them avoid scams, including publishing this op-ed by Laura in the Arizona Daily Star;
- facilitating three Office-wide trainings for prosecutors, including immigration consequences education, using self-care to overcome vicarious trauma, and a primer on what criminal justice reform means in Pima County;
- forming a PCAO Cash Bail working group that is helping to achieve the legislative change needed to fully divorce ourselves from cash bail;
- working with the Public Defender’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, and Justice Court, to both safely reduce our jail population and to create an adult restorative justice program that will launch in 2021;
- and hiring a cadre of young lawyers and other support staff who make our Office more accessible; five of 13 new attorneys, victim advocates and law clerks hired just in March and April, for example, are bilingual.
Additionally, Laura and her leadership team have worked to help create a safer Pima County on the front end – before policing and prosecution enter the equation – by engaging the community at both virtual and in-person events that provide greater access to PCAO, The People’s Office.
- In January, PCAO collaborated with Tucson Police and Pillars & Bridges of Tucson to pass out more than 1,000 boxes (approximately 35,000 pounds) of fresh food in west Tucson;
- In February, we planted dozens of trees on Tucson’s southside with Trees for Tucson;
- In March, we worked with Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, Tucson PD’s Mental Health Support Team & Galería Mitoltera on a South Tucson Community Cleanup that brought out people from across the community;
- And this week, Laura and members of her leadership team held an accountability session with the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, meeting with close to 30 people from the neighborhood to answer questions on a range of issues, from juvenile detention to police funding.
This morning, as R&B and local cumbias streamed in the lobby, Laura and her leadership team passed out breakfast burritos from Los Jarritos, pan dulce from La Estrella Bakery, and local coffee from Coffee Times to commemorate the first 100 days and show their gratitude to the staff.
“The nobility of the work here is humbling,” Laura said. “The redactors, for example, who work in darkened labs, making sure the faces of innocent, little children are blurred within body camera footage. That is such difficult work, and too often it’s thankless work.
“I hope to keep honoring their service in the next 100 days,” she added, “and the 100 days after that.”
Of course, much of this is sure to be included in Laura’s “Justice in Pima County” weekly reviews, which anyone can access via the PCAO website or via Facebook and Instagram.