Criminal Justice Reform in America: Rethinking the Role of the Prosecutor
Date:  11-03-2019

Former DA concludes: "The primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict"
From Proskauer:

Until recently, conventional wisdom among prosecutors dictated that long prison terms were vital to public safety. They took seriously the direction “ to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses,” and measured success in terms of trial wins and convictions. Conventional wisdom, however, is changing from this purely punitive model as prosecutors are now beginning to recognize the great price we pay — both the dollar and human cost — for mass incarceration in America.

At a panel discussion earlier this week, “Prosecutors and the Criminal Justice Reform Movement,” Lucy Lang, Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (“IIP”) at John Jay College, and Sam Rivera, Associate Vice President of Housing at The Fortune Society, discussed the role of the prosecutor in bringing about systemic change.

Lang, a former Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, emphasized the need for prosecutors to recognize the long history of racial inequality in our justice system, and to play a leadership role in overcoming it. Following the end of the Civil War, for example, the prison population swelled as freed slaves were prosecuted under vagrancy laws for, in effect, being poor and unemployed. The use of prison labor (a practice that continues today) thus created a new form of slavery and perpetuated racial injustice, as did Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation. In short, understanding the past informs the challenges we face today: African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. Continue reading >>>