Today, a coalition of criminal legal reform and voting rights advocates released a statement in response to the governor signing SB 92.
“This anti-democratic legislation creates a state commission with powers to investigate, sanction, and remove duly elected local prosecutors. This legislation is part of a coordinated anti-democratic power grab and attempts to undo the will of voters.
After the historic, recent elections of district attorneys who support criminal legal reform, anti-democratic politicians passed, and the governor signed SB 92—the latest bill in a growing trend of election subversion legislation all part of a coordinated anti-democratic effort active in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and other states to undo the will of voters. All over the country, anti-democratic politicians are using every tactic they can to overturn elections. It’s clear that SB 92 is not about public safety, but instead, this bill is primarily targeted toward district attorneys who made their support for enacting criminal legal reform policies clear.
District attorneys are elected officials; as such, they are held accountable to the communities they represent, not to anti-democratic politicians seeking to undo the will of voters. By signing this legislation, the governor strips away the autonomy and discretion of prosecutors and their ability to make the best decisions for the safety of their communities. In addition to democratic elections, several existing mechanisms address allegations of prosecutor misconduct, including procedures through both the State Bar of Georgia and the Attorney General of Georgia, suspension by the Governor of Georgia, and impeachment procedures through the Georgia General Assembly. SB 92 is unnecessary, costly, and against the best interest of Georgia voters.
District attorneys and solicitors have significant decision-making power in the criminal legal system, disproportionately impacting Black and brown Georgians. In the vital interest of having a criminal legal system that is as equitable as possible, we also recognize that there is a significant need to restore funding to public defenders’ offices, which have been chronically underfunded under Brian Kemp’s administration, In 2021, Brian Kemp slashed their budgets by $1.9 million, after initially proposing a $3.5 million cut to the public defender’s office.
The bottom line: Senate Bill 92 and similar anti-voter efforts nationwide are not about public safety but an attack on democracy. Senate Bill 92 is a highly-partisan measure that takes away the voices of Georgians who have cast their vote for the individuals they want overseeing how the criminal legal system works in their community.”