Congressman John R. Lewis Forms Oregon Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform

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“Plant your bucket, where you started. You have a Moral obligation when you see something that is not right, not fair, not justice, you have to speak out.”

Brian M. Douglass, a longtime successful community activist and volunteer disability rights advocate from Bend, has announced the formation of the Oregon Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform, (OCCJR) a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization.

Elected district attorneys in Oregon experience no oversight or review of their decisions to prosecute or not prosecute cases in their jurisdiction.

Oregon state Supreme Court justices down to municipal judges are under the oversight and review of the Oregon Judicial and Disability Commission, but not district attorneys. How is it that Oregon’s DAs have escaped this oversight?

Oregon has a longstanding reputation for progressive and innovative governance, going all the way back to 1908 when Oregonians passed the first in the nation, Initiative, Referendum and Recall of public officials as an option for redress of grievances committed by elected officials, however, this law does not apply to district attorneys.

Soon came legislation to build public State Parks, keeping our beaches open to the public, the Oregon Bottle Bill and the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission. The proposed legislation is an opportunity for Oregon to once again be at the cutting edge of reform, this time in the troubled criminal justice system.

The OCCJR will be working statewide between now and the 2023 session of the Oregon Legislature to secure passage of this important legislation.

Oregonians individually will be encouraged to be the “tip of the spear” by personally contacting their district state senators and representatives to vote “aye,” when this bill comes to a vote in the 2023 session.

Today, Oregon has the opportunity to become the second State in the Union to enact the recently implemented New York Prosecutorial Misconduct Commission.

The primary goal of the OCCJR is for citizen education and involvement of voters to the importance of this legislation.

District attorneys have an impact on the quality of life of citizens in their counties, particularly those that are being prosecuted through the DA’s office. It is incumbent on all citizens to see that people are treated justly in that process. However, currently, because of the lack of oversight and review in their decisions, there is no way to assure that justice is being served in county courthouses across Oregon.

The most important step in this badly needed criminal justice reform effort is to implement this oversight and review commission as soon as possible to end for once and for all, any future egregious acts, right in their tracks.

The OCCJR recognizes that like in New York State, the state’s DAs through the Oregon Association of District Attorneys, will likely be the most vocal public opposition in Oregon.

The New York law, Senate Bill S3934 provides a blueprint for the OCCJR and the Oregon legislature to consider in drafting Oregon’s version. The introduction to the New York law reads:

“Relates to the state commission on prosecutorial conduct; provides that the commission shall investigate complaints and may make a recommendation to the governor that a prosecutor be removed; provides that the commission shall transmit its findings of fact and recommendations to the appellate division; provides that the appellate division may accept or reject such recommendations or impose a different sanction.” NY Senate Bill S3934

The OCCJR will also promote consideration of inclusion of rules in the bill that address such topics as: timeliness in addressing complaints or appeals, reparations for damages incurred by misconduct, and potential for revisiting past cases involving DAs with a history of misconduct.

The passage of this legislation may like John Kennedy once told us to, ‘light up’ our nation with justice when he said, “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it.” The goal of the OCCJR is to shine light on a group of public servants that have been allowed to operate in the shadow of proper oversight and review.

As repeated examples of abuse in the criminal justice system, often initiated in the DA’s office, are coming to light through the Black Lives Matter Movement, the MeToo Movement and through the mainstream press, the absence of an effective oversight and review process of the decisions made by Oregon district attorneys has had its largest negative impacts on black, indigenous, people of color, and women. Other groups disproportionately harmed by rogue DAs are others who typically have less of a voice in our criminal justice system such as people with disabilities, particularly those with mental health conditions, those of lower economic status and the houseless (see specific examples at occjr.org).

A RECORD OF PUBLIC SERVICE: 1971 – Current

1971: Coordinated the re-establishment of the Squirrel Population at Pacific University. This generated my unofficial, non-academic Doctor of Squirrelology, Sq. D humursly, recognized by the University in fall, 2016

1971-1972: Selected to serve as the Student Ombudsman

1975-1977: President, Errol Heights Neighborhood Association in Portland Oregon

1977-1978: Member, Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee

1976: Created and managed Neighborhood Street Paving Project. Raised nearly $90K in private money to partially pave (15 Foot widths) dirt streets, thus eliminating Mud in the winter and dust in the summer

1975-1977: Board member Clackamas County Fire District #1

1976-1977: Coordinated and managed a local Street Improvement Project which raised approximately $85K in private funds to pave 8 to 10 blocks in the SE Portland Errol Heights Neighborhood

1987-1989: Created and managed the business model for a Boy Scout Christmas Tree Recycling Project to raise funds for Troop activities in SE Portland Oregon. This event raised about $2,000 annually

1990: Coordinated the installation of “Next Signal” signage along NE Third Street and NE Greenwood Ave. in Bend Oregon

1995: Convenor, Central Oregon Post-Polio Support Group, organized by the Easter Seals Association of Oregon and supported by the St. Charles Medical Center

1995-1996: Acknowledged by John White Ph.D. Chairman of the Occupational Therapy Department at Pacific University as a “Pioneer” in early private Civil Federal Litigation attempting to establish “Settled Law” against the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

1990-1997: Created and managed the business model for a Boy Scout Christmas Tree Recycling Project to raise funds for multiple Troop’s activities in Bend Oregon. The project has been ongoing and is now in its 27th year with estimated earnings by local Scout leaders exceeding $1.25M and growing annually

1990-Current: Volunteer Disability Rights advocate in Central Oregon

1998-2000: Volunteer admissions representative in the 4th Congressional District in Oregon for the United States Merchant Marine Academy

1999-2000: Oregon Executive Officer for the Blue and Gold Program, Academy Admissions for the United States Naval Academy

2000-2010: Founded and managed the Olympic Institute for Leadership Development, Inc. A nonprofit organization providing educational consulting for candidates wishing appointments to our nation’s five Military Service Academys and Military Junior Colleges and Prep Schools for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

2001: One of four advocates who filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, against the City of Bend, Deschutes County and The River House Resort for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

2006-2010: Founded and managed the Smith Rock Race Group LLC. Created and produced the Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR) from 2008-2010. CLR is now the largest single athletic event in Central Oregon with more than 3,000 participants. As part of the CLR, created the Hire a Volunteer Program which has raised about $260,000 for many local nonprofit organizations in Central Oregon since 2008.

2007: Produced the Smith Rock Sunrise Summer Classic, to benefit the Family Kitchen of Bend. The Kitchen was virtually broke and facing imminent closure. The event donated approximately $6 to $7K in event profits, in badly needed funds to feed the hungry.

2014-Current: Program manager (head angel) of the Pacific Crest Trail, Central Oregon Trail Angel Program

2015-Current: Created and currently serves as the chief advocate, for Advocates for Disabled Americans, the successor organization for Advocates for Disabled Americans, Inc. A nonprofit organization to provide leadership, vision and planning to cities and municipalities and their citizens to build accessible pedestrian pathways (sidewalks) in their communities.

2017: Recipient of the First Annual Pioneer Award, for service in creating the business model for the Boy Scout Christmas Tree Recycling Program in 1990 by the Fremont District, Crater Lake Council.

2017: Organized through Advocates for Disabled Americans Inc., the First Annual Let’s Sweep and Trim Together summer project in the City of Bend.

2019: Expanded Advocates for Disabled Americans (ADA), to Advocates for Disabled, Disadvantaged and Senior Americans (ADDSA).

2019: Created and managed JammerCize, a community-based outreach program to bring country, blue grass and gospel music programs to Central Oregon senior centers, public housing, assisted living centers and senior retirement communities.

2021: Organized and serving as chief advocate for a nonprofit, Oregon Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform, to make Oregon District Attorneys subject to a Public Oversight and Review Board for their prosecuting decisions, while serving as State Elected District Attorneys. The working model for this effort is the existing New York Prosecutorial Misconduct Commission.

occjr.orgchiefadvocateoccjr@gmail.com

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