FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2023
MOBILE, Alabama –
Today marks the 100th day in office for Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood and the momentum for seeking justice and keeping our citizens as safe as possible couldn’t be stronger.
A top priority this new administration has focused on within the first 100 days is working together to make a stronger community. District Attorney Blackwood believes all parts of our community, our government, and our justice system must work together in our respective roles if we are to succeed.
District Attorney Blackwood hit the ground running in his first week with the first successful Aniah’s Law hearing since the law passed in the November 2022 election. Today, there are two additional defendants being held without bond under Aniah’s Law.
Immediately after taking office, the District Attorney implemented Phase I of his restructuring plan by assigning prosecutors with significant experience to District Court. As a direct result, criminal cases have been prosecuted at a markedly increased rate.
To further address the backlog of criminal cases and bring swift justice to victims, District Attorney Blackwood’s clear vision required the implementation of Phase II of his plan. To diligently prosecute backlogged cases, additional prosecutors were critical. District Attorney Blackwood engaged with our community partners to raise necessary funds to hire these essential members of our team, reaching out to our local government to assist in our important mission of making our community as safe as possible.
District Attorney Blackwood proposed a plan to the City of Mobile and Mobile County Commission to financially support this endeavor, allowing the District Attorney’s Office to better serve the citizens of Mobile. With the support of Mayor Stimpson, the Mobile City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million dollars to the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office over the course of three years. One month later, the Mobile County Commission voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million dollars for additional resources. The hiring process is currently underway, with the goal of having 5-7 new prosecutors and additional staff in place within the next 60 days. District Attorney Blackwood feels privileged to work with government partners who also prioritize public safety.
Heeding the call to make the streets of Mobile safer, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office formed a new task force, in collaboration with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Mobile Police Department and the U.S. Marshals to expedite arrests on dangerous defendants who were secretly indicted by the Grand Jury. Since the inception of the new task force just a few short weeks ago, six dangerous alleged criminals have been arrested.
With a strong belief in alternative courts, District Attorney Blackwood has worked with Drug Court Judge Hardesty, Circuit Court Presiding Judge Pipes, and other stakeholders to support Drug Court, making it more accessible. District Attorney Blackwood instituted policy changes that encourage appropriate, non-violent offenders with a drug addiction to enter Drug Court, receive treatment, accept responsibility for their crime, and live productive lives rather than continuing down the path of criminal conduct. District Attorney Blackwood has also worked with Judge Windom and other stakeholders to reinitiate Veterans Court as a new and productive program for appropriate, non-violent veterans to treat issues unique to veterans. Finally, District Attorney Blackwood has engaged with the Judges, the City of Mobile, the County Commission, and other stakeholders to develop plans for a future Mental Health Court to treat appropriate, non-violent offenders suffering from mental illness. The goal of all these alternative courts is to reduce crime over the long term and thereby support long term community safety.
District Attorney Blackwood and his staff have worked hard to implement the Helping Families Initiative, partnering with our local school systems and the Juvenile Court to address chronic school truancy. The District Attorney believes that chronic absences from school lead to a propensity for increased crime and victimization among juveniles, negatively impacting our entire community. This program seeks to eliminate existing truancy problems in Mobile County to reduce crime and ensure a better education and future for our children.
Since the beginning of District Attorney Blackwood’s administration, his prosecutors and staff have tried 25 jury trials, 20 of which were Class A felonies. This pace exceeds the average pace of trials in prior years, including years before the pandemic. There are fewer cases pending in District Court today than when this administration began. Likewise, there are over 600 fewer cases pending in Circuit Court, which translates to nearly 1000 resolved Circuit Court criminal counts in the last 100 days. This is a testament to the hard work of the people of the District Attorney’s Office, and their steadfast commitment to prosecuting cases and holding offenders accountable, rather than simply mass-dismissing cases to eliminate the backlog as so many other jurisdictions across the country have done.
Statement from Mobile County District Attorney, Keith Blackwood:
“We have accomplished so much in these first 100 days; however, our goal is to positively impact the future of this community. Every day we are prosecuting crime and implementing innovative and alternative solutions to prevent and reduce crime in the long-term. The trust and confidence our community had in me to elect me as their District Attorney is not lost on me – not for one single day. It’s an honor to serve the citizens of Mobile County and a responsibility I don’t take lightly. The people of the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office work each day in the pursuit of justice, giving our victims a voice in the justice system, and holding those who committed crimes against them accountable. We are proud of what we have accomplished in these first 100 days and have no plans to slow down. My commitment is to justice and to this community. Together we will continue to make Mobile County a better place.”