#JusticeinPimaCounty: Week 41
Historically, elected prosecutors have defined success in their offices rather narrowly: Win in the courtroom and get lots of years in prison. As we’ve all come to see, this restricted view of prosecutorial success has failed our communities. It doesn’t actually provide community accountability or heal those who have been harmed, and its failure to do so has been the catalyst for the nationwide reform movement. Thus, I’ve been working with our prosecutors to reimagine success.
This week, along with a senior prosecutor and veteran victim advocate, I met with a daughter who waited seven very long years to find out from our office why a person who was suspected of causing the death of her parents had never been charged in the incident. She tried years ago, but couldn’t get answers from this Office. I imagine the wait, the grief, the not knowing must have been grueling. After our prosecutor, who took a fresh and thorough look at the incident, reviewed all the facts and explained our decision not to charge the person who was accused, we spent the rest of the time just listening.
Though we did not provide this family with what is the conventional idea of justice – a conviction and a prison sentence – they told us that our accessibility alone had given them a measure of peace and closure. And providing them directly with long-awaited answers, they said, made the work of our prosecutor so appreciated. “This, this is also success,” the daughter said.
Accessibility to this office and its employees, including myself, our leadership team, our prosecutors and victim advocates, was the main objective when we set out several months ago to redevelop the PCAO website, pcao.pima.gov. Not just the ability to email or call someone in our office (which you can do now with a simple mouse click or tap on your phone), but access to the larger system – to what is the People’s Office and the People’s Data, to the felony legal process, which has been such a cryptic thing for too long.
A few key elements of the website that we’re particularly happy to highlight:
– Fillable, web-based forms that you don’t have to print out or email
– Our Meetings & Events calendar showing you when and where you can help us build community and engage in prevention work
– And our Homepage’s Data Snapshot, which highlights some of the good the office is doing, but also (and more importantly) the ways in which the prosecutor’s office is so limited in its reaction to harm.
We think the new website makes our office easy to access and our work easier to understand. And if it leads to better outcomes for the health and safety of our community, well, that would be… a success.