September 25, 2018
Contact: Jana Kooren,, 651-529-1693, 651-485-5925 (cell)
St. Paul, Minn - The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota kicks off a voter education and engagement campaign today to raise awareness about the powerful role county attorneys/prosecutors play in the state’s 87 counties, and to increase county attorneys’ accountability and transparency.  Minnesota’s local campaign focusing on the power of the prosecutor is a part of the nationwide Campaign for Smart Justice.
 “We will never truly transform our nation’s criminal justice system and put an end to mass incarceration until we hold county attorneys accountable for the discretionary charging decisions they make. County attorneys are among the most powerful, least accountable, and least transparent actors in the criminal justice system,” stated ACLU-MN Executive Director John Gordon.
The campaign includes:
  • An interactive website (
  • A podcast about the role of the county attorney
  • Voter engagement events around the state including a Hennepin County Attorney Candidate forum (link to event page), co-hosted with other non-profits. 
All 87 county attorneys are up for election this November. The campaign seeks to provide voters with information about the policy positions of every county attorney and, if applicable, her or his opponents. The ACLU-MN sent a questionnaire to all candidates running for county attorney throughout the state. Some candidates completed the questionnaire, but most did not. Visitors to the website can read the completed questionnaires. If a candidate did not fill out a questionnaire, voters should demand to know why and insist that a candidate promptly complete and submit a questionnaire to the ACLU-MN. 
“Voters in Minnesota deserve to be equipped with the information and tools they need to effectively engage with their county attorneys and to know how to hold them accountable,” stated John Gordon, ACLU-MN executive director. “Being entangled with our criminal justice system can have life-long consequences. The consequences of unchecked prosecutorial power disproportionately burden people of color and the poor. It is time for Minnesota voters to hold our county attorneys accountable and it starts by getting to know their positions on criminal justice issues.” 
This ACLU-MN’s Smart Justice Campaign is coordinated through the National ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign as part of a comprehensive strategy in all 50 states to reduce mass incarceration.