Justice systems around the country are beginning to address the reasons why some troubled individuals are perpetually in and out of court, but their success will be limited unless prosecutors use their powerful role to advocate for change, says a new paper by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution.
St. Louis is experiencing a second phase of the pro-reform prosecutor movement. Activists pro and con have learned from battles in other cities to sharpen their tactics as St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney, Wesley Bell, gears up his policy agenda.
Prosecutors are arguably the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. But lack of transparency about their activities means the public can’t assess their effectiveness, say two leading reformers.
The nation’s prosecutors today have an historic opportunity to eliminate the charging practices that have caused the imprisonment of disproportionate numbers of African Americans, says the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College.
A French film crew recorded every move of Suffolk County, Ma., District Attorney Rachael Rollins on Monday. “People want to see real-time what it is that’s happening” in criminal justice reform, she says.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner tried to remake the culture of his agency in his first year in office. He has turned over 30 percent of his staff and is stirring controversy. A police union official said he is seeking to “destroy criminal justice.”