Candidate Q&A: Matthew Durkin for the First Judicial District

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Profession: Chief Deputy District Attorney

Residence: Littleton

Party: Republican

Contact: DurkinforDA.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

For nearly 25 years, I have protected our community as a prosecutor in the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office where I’m currently a Chief Deputy District Attorney. I have prosecuted major homicides, physical and sexual abuse against children, and drug trafficking organizations. As the former Deputy Attorney General at the Colorado AG’s Office I managed a $10 million budget, 70 employees, and legislators from both parties on reform. The Denver Post endorsed me because I am “extremely qualified to now step into the role as District Attorney … We urge voters to support him and his vision for the office.”

If elected, what would your top issue be?

At nearly 50%, Colorado has one of the worst recidivism rates in the country, which means that nearly half of offenders return to prison within three years of being released. Simultaneously, there is a crime wave in Colorado that has been fueled by a drug addiction crisis. For the first time in decades, as national crime statistics have declined, Colorado crime has continued to increase. Murders, violent crime and property crime have steadily increased since 2013. In that time, Jefferson County has 15 – 20% more felonies, and Gilpin County felonies have gone up by as much as 50%.

If elected, what would you want to accomplish in order for you to consider the term a success?

As a community, we must address recidivism by implementing effective drug addiction treatment for those involved in the criminal justice system. We can learn from our Diversion Program, which is based upon accountability and responsibility, and has a success rate greater than 70%. Community collaboration with the courts, defense, the business community and faith based community to implement effective drug treatment so that we can prevent offenders from coming back to the system for their benefit, the benefit of future victims, and the safety of the community.

With budget cuts and COVID-19 straining the county jail, how best can the DA's office respond?

The budget for the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office has been significantly cut in the last two years. Unlike other departments, 87% of the budget is personnel including Deputy District Attorneys, investigators, paralegals, victim witness specialists, and other support staff. Regardless of budget issues, the unwavering mission of every member of the District Attorney’s Office is to pursue justice in each case and to protect public safety. To maintain high prosecutorial standards the DA’s Office must maximize its efficiencies. At the same time, we can encourage the counties to prioritize public safety.

How would you ensure racial bias would not affect how the DA's office conducts its work?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” Without law and order, there can be no justice, and justice can only be achieved within the fundamental institutions of law and order. It is the District Attorney’s responsibility to pursue justice in each case based upon thorough and impartial investigations, regardless of who the suspect may be. Through strong leadership, recruitment, and relentless training, we can fulfill that solemn responsibility.

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