The Office of the Yolo County District Attorney has been in the spotlight recently, but what does it represent? We’ll explore the role of Jeff Reisig, the Restorative justice initiative, Race-blind charging, and the Office’s commitment to transparency. And we’ll discuss what’s wrong with the current administration. Here’s a closer look. But first, some background. In the past, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office failed to protect the public from corruption.
As the District Attorney for Yolo County, California, Jeff Reisig is committed to putting community safety and crime prevention at the forefront of his work. He has been a pioneer in the area of mental health courts, which provide a less-harsh alternative to traditional prosecution and jail for people with serious mental illness. The program offers victims the opportunity to treat their illness without being in jail and has been cited as a national model.
Reisig returned to Yolo County in 1997 and has since been prosecuting crimes in the area. His experience varies from white-collar crimes to violent crimes against children and the elderly to property and other criminal activities. He has also been recognized as Yolo County Prosecutor of the Year, a distinction he earned with his outstanding performance in law enforcement. After his successful campaign, Reisig will be facing a strong challenge from the left in the form of Cynthia Rodriguez.
Restorative justice initiative
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office recently secured a second round of JAG grant funding to expand its Neighborhood Court program and create a restorative justice initiative. To achieve these goals, Yolo County worked with its criminal justice partners to design interventions for the highest-risk populations and to improve community safety. In addition, Reisig and her team worked with federal and state government agencies to pursue a second Proposition 47 grant award to expand the Mental Health Court program.
The restorative justice initiative seeks to educate the offender about the impact of their actions and to reintegrate them into the community. Instead of attempting to prove the offender’s guilt, the initiative aims to restore the offender to his or her community, victim, and family. Participants are encouraged to participate voluntarily and can tell the offender what they experienced, as well as what they need to improve.
Race-blind charging program
A new “race-blind charging program” has been implemented by the Yolo County district attorney’s office. The software, developed by Stanford University’s Computational Policy Lab, compiles data from police reports and redacts race-related information. Prosecutors then use this information to determine whether to charge a defendant. While the program hasn’t been fully implemented yet, it is already in place with two local police departments.
The Yolo County district attorney’s race-blind charging program was launched in May 2021. To implement the program, the Stanford Computational Policy Lab designed a computer program for DA Reisig’s office. This program automatically redacts race information from police reports, following trends in science and academia. In January 2022, Attorney General Bonta met with the DA’s office to discuss expanding the program to all Yolo County DAs in California.
The new technology is a step in the right direction for the district attorney’s office. The program uses a computer algorithm developed by Stanford’s Computational Policy Lab to remove race-related information from police narratives. Because police narratives are already biased, removing race-related information will give prosecutors a more balanced view of the case. However, there are challenges involved. In the Yolo County district attorney’s office, it is vital to use the program to reduce race-based disparities in the justice system.
Office’s commitment to transparency
The Office of Yolo County District Attorney’ (DA) recently launched a new transparency portal, Commons. This data portal was developed in partnership with the nonprofit Measures for Justice, which advocates for greater accountability and transparency. The Commons platform hosts data about court cases and racial disparities. Users can adjust the settings to see data related to their age, race, and whether or not they were arrested.
The “Commons” website offers a unique perspective on how DAs and prosecutors act in a community. Through data visualization tools, users can track how many people are arrested and prosecuted, as well as which cases are dropped. They can see the types of crimes happening in Yolo County and how the DA’s office addresses these cases. The site also aggregates data on prosecutorial decisions and how they impact public safety.