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Initiatives

Prosecution

We envision a new model of prosecution, where prosecutors’ decision making is transparent and data-driven, and prosecutors commit to a holistic — rather than punitive — approach to community safety.

Because of their vast discretion, prosecutors have a claim to being the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system. Yet we know so little about how prosecutors’ offices make decisions and what impacts those decisions have on our communities. This is because data on decision making is scarce — in many cases, prosecutors aren’t required to record it. And a combined lack of transparency, lack of electoral challengers, and lack of liability for misconduct mean prosecutors are rarely held accountable to voters.

We’re working to help prosecutors build data collection, evaluation, and analysis into their offices. This is a critical first step in understanding what effects prosecutors’ policies have on communities and in exploring how reform-minded prosecutors are changing outcomes. We’ll use this strong foundation of evidence to help support the new model of prosecution that’s emerging: one focused on evidence-based best practices and thoughtful use of prosecutorial discretion.

Image: Clockwise from top left, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins. (Composite photo/Associated Press/Getty Images)

47%
Proportion of prosecutors’ offices that collect data on pretrial release decision making. Source
40%
Increase in the number of felony cases filed by prosecutors between 1994-2008, even as crime and arrests dropped. Source
44%
Chances you are less likely to be offered pretrial diversion if you are African-American versus whites charged with similar offenses. Source