On November 8, 2016, Lynneice O. Washington made history as the first African American Woman to be elected District Attorney in the State of Alabama and in Jefferson County.
“When I began campaigning for District Attorney, I was unmindful of the historical impact that would fl ow from a successful election,” Washington said.
She was both honored and humbled by the realization, but it did not change her goals as a district attorney.
“I’ve purposed a three-pronged mission,” she said. “Number one is to promote public safety; two is to maintain the communities’ trust; and three is to empower our youth for the future.”
DA Washington admits it is hard to find a balance between those three goals, but since she has taken the leadership at the District Attorney’s Office, she has done everything in her power to achieve it.
In July 2017, she created and launched the first District Attorney-formed tasked force that she named Operation Python.
It was organized to begin fulfilling her promise of public safety, and in three months the team she put together had removed 126 violent criminals who had terrorized the communities in her jurisdiction.
But that was only the beginning for DA Washington. Since taking office, Washington has worked with other officials in the area to implement programs that will help the community holistically.
For DA Washington, there was never any other career option imaginable — she always wanted to be a lawyer.
While growing up she was inspired by female heroes such as Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman, but she was also intrigued by the law, and loved court shows like “Perry Mason” and later “LA Law” with others to follow.
“I loved legal shows that would come to the rescue of the down-trodden and deliver justice,” she said.
DA Washington believes in educating youth and the community about laws that affect them. She hopes through education and programs such as the West Jefferson Helping Families Initiative, she can retain more young people on the right side of the law and divert them from the school-to-prison pipeline to a pathway of success.
But no matter what side of the law a person is on, Washington strives to make sure people receive common human decency. She believes that when people are treated with respect, they no longer feel devalued and are able to have hope.
She implemented the first victim’s services unit within the DA’s Office to help crime victims navigate through the legal system and receive support needed in their pursuit of justice.
On Nov. 1, 2019, she held the area’s inaugural West Jefferson County Second Chance Hiring Fair, an event that provided ex-offenders an opportunity to gain employment with employers there that were willing to give them a second chance at a new start in life and to be productive citizens in the community.
“We cannot continue to use prisons exclusively as a means of punishment without rehabilitation and preparation for offenders to re-enter society,” Washington said. “The goal is to make the community safer, improve socio-economic disparities and strengthen the family unit. Unless they’ve committed society’s most violent and heinous crime without a chance of parole, they must be prepared to re-enter society before their release. Ultimately, education, employment coupled with a sense of pride will curtail high recidivism rates.”
She has also started the first cold case unit in the DA’s Office and is currently working to create the first conviction review unit to address wrongful convictions. The goal is to seek justice, do justice and establish best practices going forward.
“I know I am here for a reason and only for a season,” Washington said. “In my season, I have purposed myself to always seek justice and do all that I can to help improve our community, and to make those who have sacrificed so much for me to have this opportunity to serve, proud.”