The Current Role of the Prosecutor
Prosecutors are the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system.
Because they choose who to charge, what to charge them with, and the number and severity of the charges, prosecutors heavily influence the short and long-term outcomes of the people impacted by the system. The consequences of those decisions can mean the difference between the success or failure of someone touched by the system and the overall safety of the community. Prosecutors’ discretion requires them to make decisions to achieve better public safety through the lens of justice.
Overworked and underfunded, DA’s offices often do not have the time or the resources necessary to train new prosecutors how to reach those goals or required to collect the data to demonstrate better metrics for prosecutors’ decisions. As a result, traditional incentives in DA’s offices yield traditional results: too much crime in concentrated areas, too much wasted expense with little benefit, too many people in prison, too many unjust outcomes.
Prosecutor Impact is built to solve these problems:
Limited Training for new prosecutors
- Prosecutors start their jobs without receiving fundamental training in disciplines that would help them prevent crime. They are forced to rely on traditional methods that have been proven to lead to unintended consequences.
- Those consequences can impede an individual’s successful reentry into the community, putting us all at risk
- Equipped with basic knowledge about crime, its causes, the most effective interventions, and community based partnerships, prosecutors will be in a much better position to use their discretion to achieve the best outcomes
Limited Experience for New Prosecutors
- Often, new prosecutors begin with jobs with little exposure to the communities or the people impacted most by the criminal justice system
- The disconnect in life experiences leaves room for implicit biases, fears, and risk aversion to supplant sound, fair and informed decision making
- Prosecutors’ early exposure to those most in contact with the criminal justice system their communities will dramatically inform prosecutors’ decision-making at all points in the life of case.
High Pressure Environment for New Prosecutors
- Especially in larger prosecutors’ offices that see the heaviest caseloads, new prosecutors enter a high stress environment with countervailing pressures from judges, veteran police officers, court clerks, seasoned defense attorneys, and senior colleagues.
- Those pressures can wear down the resolve of new prosecutors and leave them feeling unsupported to make the tough decisions we want them to
- By training leadership skills early in a prosecutors’ career, they will learn how to maintain the autonomy to make the best, most informed decisions in high stress moments instead of decisions made to avoid risk or discontent.