The “What a Difference a DA Makes” campaign, a first-of-its-kind voter education campaign launched by the ACLU of Massachusetts, today announced the first debate in the Suffolk County district attorney race.

Set for Thursday, June 7 at 6:00 PM at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury, the debate will convene the candidates for Suffolk County district attorney for a conversation with voters about Massachusetts’ criminal legal system.

“District attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system – and they’re accountable only to the voters,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ racial justice program and What a Difference a DA Makes campaign manager. “Conversations like this forum are critical to building awareness on the life-changing power wielded by district attorneys and how voters can hold district attorneys and candidates accountable to encourage them to make fair and just decisions.”

A poll released in July 2017 showed that people have limited knowledge of district attorneys’ power, budgets, and accountability. Half of the registered voters believe individual district attorneys have only a minor or insignificant impact on the functioning of the criminal justice system – and almost four-in-ten voters (38 percent) did not know that district attorneys are elected and accountable only to voters.

After hearing facts and messages about the every day impact district attorneys can have on individual lives and in communities, 81 percent of voters said they are more likely to pay attention to their local district attorney race.

“That is the goal of our campaign – to inform and educate voters so that they are more aware and engaged in their local district attorney campaigns,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “For far too long, the system has given preference to the connected and wealthy, and voters must start to feel – and hear – there is more racial justice and fairness in our criminal justice system.”