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Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Election and Accountability: Building Electoral Power for Criminal Justice Reform

Resource type: Case Study

Barsoum Policy Consulting |

The 2016 election of Kim Ogg as district attorney (DA) in Harris County, Texas, was part of a Democratic electoral wave that extended from the presidential candidate to down ballot races including the DA and sheriff. Ogg was the first Democrat to be elected DA in nearly 40 years in a county with a reputation for leading the nation in executions and mass incarceration.

This electoral wave was driven in part by grassroots groups that organized communities around criminal justice issues and mobilized residents to vote. Leading the efforts was the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a grassroots organization with a data-driven approach to building power statewide and grounded in the state’s growing communities of color.

This case study describes TOP’s work, along with its partners in the Right2Justice Coalition, and how they leveraged an electoral win to hold the newly elected DA accountable to advance criminal justice reforms.

This case study was commissioned by the Civic Participation Action Fund, an Atlantic grantee.