I'm Matt Dugan and I'm Running for District Attorney Because...
I’ve devoted my career to ensuring the most marginalized members of our community have access to fair and just outcomes in the courtroom. That’s not always made me the most popular person in the room, especially in a society that desperately wants to create a narrative of good vs. evil in the criminal justice system. The truth is the system doesn’t work that way. And, here in Allegheny County, the system isn’t working at all. Every day we’re failing the people who encounter the criminal justice system.
We fail to address the issues that bring defendants into the system: substance abuse disorder, untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues, and instability due to poverty. We’re failing victims of violent crime by not securing convictions in our most serious cases. We’re failing Allegheny County because our criminal justice system refuses to acknowledge the humanity of the individuals it is meant to serve. I am running for District Attorney to change that.
Prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law and treating them with respect and compassion are not mutually exclusive. It is simultaneously possible to acknowledge the key drivers into the criminal justice system while also being a zealous advocate for victims of the crimes. The District Attorney’s Office has the power and discretion to implement positive change in the criminal justice system through reform-minded policies, thoughtful case resolutions that benefit both victims and defendants, and working to enact forward-thinking and preventative measures that will reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
I believe the District Attorney’s Office has the opportunity to be proactive, and to work to prevent crime before our communities are in crisis. There is an obligation to look beyond a model that merely punishes and create one that provides, when appropriate, true second chances and opportunities for rehabilitation without requiring a guilty plea and a lifetime deprived of possibility that often comes with a criminal record.
The District Attorney’s Office must acknowledge the significant racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and must actively work to eradicate those disparities with every decision and policy it implements. We must build a system that works for all members of our community.
We must acknowledge the increase in crime in our County. The "Tough on Crime" politicians and their failed policies have not made our communities safer. We must begin to think differently about how we combat violent crime. The District Attorney’s Office has the opportunity to partner with the City of Pittsburgh, the County Executive, Police Departments from across the County, and community organizations to develop a holistic approach to stop neighborhood violence. We must invest in the areas of our County most impacted by gun violence and meaningful Police – Community relationships to prevent violent crime.
The District Attorney is the chief steward of the Criminal Justice System. There’s a responsibility to show up every day committed to seeking justice. That means showing up for the community, showing up for victims, and showing up for your colleagues and co-workers.
The District Attorney has a responsibility to show up every single day committed to doing the hard work of being the chief steward of the justice system.
I’ve been showing up in the Office of the Public Defender every day for the past 16 years, fighting to improve our criminal justice system. As District Attorney, I will show up every day with compassion, commitment, and integrity and a singular focus on creating a more just District Attorney’s Office, even if it still makes me the most unpopular guy in the room.