Nancy O’Malley Statement

To the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, County and City Elected and Appointed Officials, Members of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Residents of Alameda County, Friends and Supporters:

As long as I have been a part of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office it has been an office that’s focused on doing justice. I’m proud to say that while a lot has changed locally and nationally since I first walked into a courtroom, that guiding principle of doing justice still drives every prosecutor in our office today.

I joined the Office in September 1984. I was so proud to be joining an Office with great leadership and an Office that was recognized as a leader across our country and in California. Beginning with Earl Warren’s time as District Attorney, he set in motion the ethical, selfless, professional standards for prosecutors that we carry forth today. It was Earl Warren who also ensured that the District Attorney’s Office would honor and protect the constitutional and legal protections of the accused when he created the Public Defender’s Office in 1927, only the 3rd in California.

Every District Attorney since Earl Warren has expanded the leadership of this Office that has had impacts across the nation.

I am very proud to attach my name to the list of distinguished District Attorneys

I want to tell you why I chose to become a prosecutor. It certainly wasn’t a straight line. My career as an advocate for justice for all began before I became an Alameda County District Attorney. As a Rape Crisis Counselor Volunteer, I witnessed first hand the way in which victims of crime were disregarded and disrespected by the Justice system. As someone who had always spoken up for others, I knew I could not be silent to a system that seemed anything but just.

As a Deputy DA, I was given great opportunities – or maybe I found them. Within a two and one-half years of joining the Office, I was appointed to represent the Office on the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, focusing on the Unmet Needs of Women Inmates. The outcomes of the Committee work were many programs, including T.A.L.K. which allowed incarcerated women to have contact visits with their children.

I served on the Criminal Justice Mental Health Advisory Committee – at a time when no one gave consideration or recognition to issues involving mental health.

We didn’t know then what we know now, but at that time, we were pushing the criminal justice system in California and Alameda County to be more responsive, more aware and more humane for those who were accused, for victims of crime and for those who witnessed crime.

I was a trial lawyer. I served on the Felony Trial team and tried my share of murders, kidnappings, carjackings and robberies, but my trial skills were best developed in prosecuting crimes involving interpersonal violence – Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, Stalking and eventually Human Trafficking.

Throughout my career I’ve never asked anyone I’ve managed to do anything I wasn’t willing to do. When I was a trial deputy, I tried cases. When I was a manager, I expected our deputies to try cases. I’m proud that this office, when the case calls for it, is still willing to try the hard cases. Not because we seek wins or fear losses, but because we always seek justice.

Within 6 years as a DDA, I was placed in leadership. My predecessors, Jack Meehan and Tom Orloff, trusted me to start the creation of specialized prosecution Units, including the Domestic Violence Unit and the Sexual Assault Unit, the Human Exploitation And Trafficking Unit, the Elder Protection Unit. I have carried this forward as District Attorney and added the Mental Health Unit, and our Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Many of these Units were the first in prosecutor offices across the country and I am proud that we are still recognized as the innovators and experts in many of these areas that deeply impact those we serve.

My Office was the first prosecutor office in the country to create a Division to support victims of crime under the leadership of then District Attorney D. Lowell Jensen in 1974 .

Today, I have grown that Division to more than 40 victim advocates helping victims navigate the system. We worked hard to enact the Constitutional Amendment Victims Bill of Rights and now, we uphold the rights for every victim of crime.

In doing so, we are helping those victimized to heal and move beyond. Though support, financial, emotional and respectful – We are helping those heal, move beyond and strive for a life of health, calm, satisfaction and positivity.

From addressing illegal dumping to paying for funerals of murdered individuals and everything in between, we serve more victims of crime than those who are prosecuted. And, a majority of those we serve are victims of color

For as long as I have been in the Office, as a Deputy District Attorney and in leadership as Chief Assistant and now District Attorney, I can say without the slightest hesitation that in this Office, our actions have always been grounded in seeking the truth, fighting for justice and working with compassion for others

I humbly say that I am one of the most honored and awarded District Attorneys in the Country. I have never sought awards, but I have been blessed to receive more than 55 national, state and local awards including

the American Bar Association Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award for Leadership and Advancing Women in the Law. I am the only Prosecutor to receive this most distinguished award, with former recipients Hillary Clinton, Ruth Badar Ginsburg, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and many more national leaders who have written history.

I am very humbled by these awards. You can view the full list on my website nancyomalleyforda.org

These awards were given for the innovative, impactful programs and work I have created and led. To be sure, no one person achieves success alone, and I am not different. It is about leadership and selecting the right individuals to carry forth the programs, and mission, those who share in the vision and commitment to make lives better and to have a positive impact on our community.

As our friend, former colleague and now Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris, has said, “We may be the first but we will not be the last” - our programs lead the way for others.

Thankfully, many of the programs I have led as an office and you have helped implement are now national models. Part of great leadership is selecting great people who can help create, implement and carry forth great initiatives. I have done just that in those individuals who have shared in the model programs… of which I will highlight just a few of so many we have built.

I could not be more proud of the Alameda County Family Justice Center. With the blessing of then District Attorney Tom Orloff, I opened the Family Justice Center in 2005. We were the second in the country to open. Beginning in July, 2005, we had over 600 women with children come to the Center for help. Now, we provide more than 15,000 services to primarily women and children who are victims of domestic violence, or sexual assault or human trafficking or elder / dependent care abuse or child abuse. We have grown from a co-location of service providers who respond to interpersonal crimes to a collaborative, comprehensive, effective Family Justice Center, providing a collaborative, comprehensive response, unique and life-saving resources and importantly, a Center of Empowerment so victims can move beyond their victimization. We were part of the research on the Science of HOPE and we have incorporated that science into all areas of our work, including our Certified Trauma Recovery Center. We have been honored by the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women as a Model Program.

I am extremely proud and humbled by the leadership we have had in combating Human Trafficking. In 2005, we created the First Prosecution Unit in the country. In 2009, I introduced H.E.A.T. Watch (Human Exploitation And Trafficking) which is a 5-prong blueprint for all communities to build their anti-trafficking initiatives. We are blessed that H.E.A.T. Watch is now a national model to combat modern day slavery that is happening in every state, in most communities in one form or another. All of our programs have been replicated in various communities. We are now educating all 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th graders about human trafficking so they are armed with information and awareness. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has lifted up H.E.A.T. Watch as a Model Program.

We have created several programs for the care and empowerment of youth.

SafetyNet is a confidential weekly meeting of collaborative partners to identify and build safety plans for youth and young adults who are at risk for or are being trafficked. In the last 10 years, we have created more than 7,000 safety plans that have helped young people, mostly female, be safe.

Girls’ Court in the Juvenile Justice system was one of the first of its kind in the State, focusing on minors who found themselves in the juvenile justice system and who were also being trafficked.

The Young Women’s Empowerment Program helps young women who have been trafficked or are at risk for being trafficked to gain knowledge, skill, support, and including financial literacy so they can be self-sufficient and healthy and safe.

For several years, we have employed Restorative Justice Circles for youth instead of prosecution. The results have been substantial with less than 20% recidivism.

In 2011, I created the District Attorney Justice Academy (DAJA) for Juniors and Seniors in High School. It is county-wide now and we have 4 cohorts in East, South, Central and North County. It is a program that helps youth find their passion and learn to advocate for a better society. We are training and educating and sensitizing our future leaders to understand the justice system and build their voices to carry forth into the future a better and more impactful system to keep communities safe. More than 1000 youth have participated and 100% have gone to college.

An initiative I led at the national and statewide levels is the testing of Forensic Sexual Assault Kits (SAK). After discovering that there were an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 untested SAKs in police evidence rooms, I took this completely unacceptable dilemma to the White House.

My great thanks to Congressman Mike Honda for guiding me through the Congressional process and his support of this initiative. Special thanks go to then Vice-President Joe Biden for their leadership. President Obama sign into law the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). I was proud to be with Vice-President Biden when he announced the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative which now has exceeded $150 million in grant funds across our nation.

In California, I sponsored two pieces of legislation, first with then-Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and two years later with Senator Connie Levya. Now, all law enforcement is required to submit Sexual Assault Kits within 5 days to the crime lab and for the crime lab to test the kits within 120 days. We have also made law enforcement more accountable to victims of sexual assault by keeping data on each kit.

Proudly, I have written, sponsored and advocated for more than 61 bills that have become law. As a strong victim advocate, we have literally changed the paradigm for victims of crime, particularly victims of interpersonal crime such as sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Since the beginning of my DA career, I have been fighting for the appropriate treatment of inmates and that fight has continued through today. Individuals sentenced to State Prison for the most serious crimes that were committed in Alameda County makes up less than 3% of the total prison population. This county has done a lot to keep people local, where they do not pose a threat to the community. In doing so, we have created more alternative courts to incarceration than any other county in the State and perhaps the country, per capita.

We have committed our resources and our efforts to find pathways for those accused of crimes to move beyond the criminal justice system.

For more than 20 years, my Office has had Mentor Diversion Court, for young adults who were caught up in crime. The recidivism rate of those who have participated is estimated below 20%;

We have created Early Intervention Court, Behavioral Health Court, Drug Court, Diversion Court, all of which keep individuals out of jail and in programs or working;

We have created effective alternatives to incarceration through the Alameda County Justice Restoration Court, helping repeat felony offenders move away from the criminal justice system successfully;

and 3-D (Deflect, Defer, Divert) Program that allows law enforcement to bring an individual who is experiencing a mental health or substance abuse episode to the CARES Navigation Center instead of jail;

we created a pre-charging program for people to gain insight into what brought them into the criminal justice system. Their successful completion means no charges being filed;

More than 16 years ago, we created the Clean Slate Program in partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center. Several thousand individuals have had that their convictions removed, so they can move beyond the criminal justice system;

And, we are partners in the Homeless and Caring Court.

The criminal justice system does not always have to be adversarial – Most cases are managed and resolved through respectful give and take between prosecutors and defense attorneys. While we may not always resolve serious and violent felony cases, we operate with respect of the law.

An important advancement I have made is hiring and/or supporting inclusion of Peer Support Specialists – those with lived experience in the criminal justice system, including serving time in Prison. The Peer Support Specialists system adds a dimension of support and engagement for offenders in programs by those who have shared experiences.

Like many, we are always reimagining how we can reduce and eliminate the racial inequities and racial disparities that occur in the criminal justice system. Giving those who come into the criminal justice system resources to build their lives free of crime is one important way we will reduce racial inequities. We have implemented other initiatives through the Division of Diversion, Equity and Inclusion.

Work as a prosecutor, especially in a forward thinking, progressive Prosecutor Office, is not for the faint of heart.

We have to make tough decisions every day. We balance prosecution with rehabilitation. We uphold the rights of victims while providing resources for them to heal from the trauma of being a crime victim. We secure more than $10 million a year in Restitution Orders for victims. We are also tasked with protecting consumers and our environment through the civil justice system and we work very hard at carrying out our missions and mandates. We actively educate and engage our community about the criminal justice system, victims’ rights and how we can work to keep our community safe.

I believe in the Science of Hope. In fact, clients from the Family Justice Center were part of the research that developed the science. When people are hopeless, they cannot see their lives any other way beyond perhaps the worst moments.

And, I also believe that we can help change the paradigms of hopelessness. When hopeless transitions to hopeful, we see the quality of life and the futures of those increase in a positive way.

I am grateful to all of those in the county and in the Office who have given me great support over the last several years. Your voices have contributed to the success and progress of my Office. And to the safety of our community.

After 37 proud years as a member of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, I have decided not seek a fourth term as District Attorney in the upcoming election.

My contributions are many; my leadership has been successful, impactful and forward thinking. I could not be more thankful for the career I have had in the best District Attorney’s Office in the state and for sure, one of the best in the nation. The overwhelming respect for this Office is widespread and well earned.

I will complete my term that ends in the beginning of 2023. I will work as hard as I have in the past to ensure that the next District Attorney is one who can continue to lead this Office as we progress into the future.

Importantly, the next District Attorney should be one with the highest ethical standards and professionalism; One with experience, and with credentials that makes him or her qualified to lead a prosecutor office; One who has vision to continue to move us forward in a way that keeps our community safe and strong, that provides programs, resources and ways for those who have engaged in crime to move beyond the criminal justice system; and, importantly, one who upholds the rights of victims of crime, who listens to and hears the voices of victims as a leader with compassion, commitment and care for all whom we serve.

Thank you,
Nancy E. O’Malley

Download a PDF of this statement.

Posted on May 18, 2021