District Attorney Jason Woodbury talked about the reforms within his office designed to improve the court system and community at the Carson City Rotary Club meeting Tuesday.
Woodbury spoke to a room of about 40 members about the direction he sees the District Attorney’s office heading in. Woodbury has been in office for six months.
In his speech, he addressed three key topics the DA’s office is looking to work on in the coming years, one being big changes with drugs in the city. Woodbury told the Rotary Club his office wanted to improve working with drug addicts and get away from the old system of just throwing everyone in jail, such as utilizing programs within the court systems like the mental health courts Carson has.
“We are figuring out what to do with people with addictions and seeing the scientific reasons behind people’s addictions,” Woodbury said. “We are getting to the point where we are getting better and more options than just throwing people in jail.”
He also talked about his office’s improved efforts to combat sexual assault. Woodbury said a big problem that occurs with sexual assault cases is when victims are familiar with the perpetrator, they may not scream or try to run and he said there has been new information with science and forensics that shows why victims may not react in ways people feel would be common.
“There is evidence why victims who are with a familiar person don’t react the way we think,” Woodbury said. “We are trying to change how people think about sexual assault situations like that because a jury doesn’t always understand why someone may not scream out during or try to get help, but we are doing better because we are being able to better present that to a jury.”
Another big change with how the DA is handling sexual assaults sexual assault exams are again going to be taken in Carson City. Previously, adult victims would need to go to Reno to get an exam, but starting August 1, administering exams is scheduled to begin, Woodbury said. He said children under 14 will still need to go to Reno however because there’s a specialized system there to take child victims.
Woodbury also talked about how the office is trying to work internally to make sure the best people are representing the DA’s office.
“I don’t have anything sexy to tell you,” Woodbury said. “What we are trying to do is all internal. We want to be an office that recruits, develops and retains the best people to represent the city.”
Woodbury said because he isn’t able to oversee every case for a city like Carson, it’s important to him to have people in the office who he can trust to be in the position and do the best work possible.
“I keep a direct eye on the big cases, but the problem is that it’s rare that people’s first contact with the law is a big case,” Woodbury said. “People are most likely introduced to the system, those are what my people are handling and if they can handle it in the right way then maybe we can stop the big cases before they can happen.”
He said to do this, his office is looking at periodic turnover because it wants people to work hard, but it also wants employees who have ambition and want to be more than just deputy district attorneys.
“Those are the people that we want, who come in and do a good job and have ambition,” Woodbury said.
Many of the members, including Mayor Bob Crowell, thanked Woodbury for the good he has been doing for Carson City.
“He was able to share a glance at what is happening on the ground and I know I appreciate that,” said Rotary president Anne Hansen. “I think it is important to do what they are doing to find ways to not incarcerate and to prevent and encourage safety in less expensive ways than just jail. I like what he is doing. I think it’s sensible and they are using the best practices and we as a community should and can appreciate that.”