A would-be reformer is taking on a longtime prosecutor in the district attorney race for Jefferson and Gilpin counties this fall.
Democrat Alexis King is facing off with Republican Matthew Durkin in the contest to replace term-limited Peter Weir as the 1st Judicial District’s top prosecutor.
Both bring significant experience as prosecutors in the district, but plan to take different approaches if elected.
Durkin is a 20-year veteran of the district attorney’s office, where he works as chief deputy district attorney. He’s been in the office in various roles since 1996, aside from a four-year stint as a prosecutor at the Colorado Attorney General’s office between 2011 and 2015.
King spent a decade as a deputy district attorney in the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s office, between 2007 and 2017, and then served as a magistrate judge in Denver County Court.
She’s running on the promise of implementing three main reforms in the district attorney’s office, including expanding and revising the office’s diversion program, reforming the district’s bail and bond practices to limit incarceration, and collecting and sharing data on any racial disparities in the office’s prosecutions so that any such issues can be corrected.
She said in an interview with The Denver Post that her past efforts — including establishing a program for children accused of sexting that focused on education and rehabilitation rather than criminal convictions — have prepared her for the role.
“I just watched at the very beginning of the race, four men put their hands up to be the next district attorney, and a lot of them were talking about this kind of stuff, and no one had already done it in the way I had,” she said.
Durkin said if he is elected, he will focus on directing defendants into effective treatment for drug addiction and will aim to lower the counties’ recidivism rates.
“It doesn’t do the offenders any good to keep coming back, so we’re obviously missing opportunities to try to help them get out of the system,” he said. “If they’re out of the system, that means future victims aren’t going to be there, and of course it’s a huge budget savings for all of us in terms of our resources at the district attorney’s office. Because crime is expensive.”
He also wants to increase transparency in the district attorney’s office, he said, and envisions creating a “citizen advisory board” of residents who could be in regular, direct contact with the office and offer feedback on the district attorney’s actions.
Those citizens would not review cases or impact the district attorney’s decisions ahead of charging or prosecution, Durkin said, but the office would outline their findings and explain their rationale to the group after the decisions were made.
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