Who are the most powerful people in your community? Many people may think it is the mayor, a major tech executive, the owner of the local sports team, or maybe even the superintendent of schools. Rarely do people think about the locally elected prosecutor, but in fact, they wield enormous power. That’s why we are introducing a new series on Medium that examines the role of the prosecutor from every angle. (Check it out here.)
Prosecutors have the authority to charge anyone with a crime (as well as the ability to decide not to bring charges). They can seek the maximum sentence for one person while letting someone else off with a warning. They decide which type of crimes will be prioritized, while others will receive little attention. But in most communities, the prosecutor is an unknown figure. Until recently most prosecutors enjoyed something close to a lifetime appointment because they frequently run unopposed.
That’s begun to change. In the era of mass incarceration many prosecutors are suddenly finding themselves under the microscope. In Chicago, Orlando,Baltimore, Tampa, Cleveland, and Jacksonville, voters have rejected the status quo in favor of people who have promised to wield their power more responsibly and transparently. Perhaps the biggest change is now happening in Philadelphia, where voters fed up with disgraced and indicted district attorney Seth Williams voted in favor of civil right attorney Larry Krasner in the recent Democratic primary.
The landscape is changing rapidly and that’s why we are so excited to announce our second media partnership that will explore these important issues. In Justice Today is a new journalism series, hosted by Medium and produced by the Fair Punishment Project, a joint project of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and its Criminal Justice Institute. (We also have a journalism partnership with Slate.)
Our goal is simple, we want to hold actors in the criminal justice system accountable for their actions. When a prosecutor puts a rape victim in jail when she doesn’t want to testify, or decides to charge a 12-year-old as an adult, the public has a right to know. This new series will be examining cases of misconduct, overcharging, and abuses of power. It will also spotlight prosecutors who are taking a fresh, new, data-driven approach to reducing crime and recidivism.
You can read and subscribe to this series on Medium: https://injustice-today.com/
You can also subscribe to the Fair Punishment Project’s RSS feed to receive all of the latest news using whatever feed reader you already use (such as Feedly).