New Initiative to Focus on Prosecutors and Race

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Justice for All March, Wash DC 2014. Photo by fuseboxradio via Flickr

A first-of-its-kind initiative to tackle longstanding racial inequities in criminal justice by focusing on the impact of prosecutors on Black people and communities was announced Thursday.

The initiative, Motion for Justice, is a joint project by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Vera Institute of Justice’s Reshaping Prosecution,  aimed at helping prosecutors “reckon with the racial injustice inherent in the criminal legal system.”

“Our hope is that prosecutors and community members across the country will explore the materials available on Motion for Justice and implement them in their communities, with an eye towards eliminating racial disparity and ending mass incarceration to develop a criminal justice system that emphasizes public safety, fairness and the dignity of everyone who touches the system,” said Lucy Lang, IIP director.

“Motion for Justice will provide prosecutors with data, tools, and policy recommendations to “better ensure their work is centered in an understanding of the historical and ever-present harm the system has caused to Black people.”

The creation of the initiative was prompted by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks as a result of police actions, the IIP said.

“The year 2020 has seen catalyzing moments in the fight for racial justice,” said a statement from Vera.

“COVID-19 has made racial and class inequities in healthcare, employment, housing, education, and other areas of our society hyper-visible.”

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