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Press Release

Criminal Justice Groups to Create New Training Approaches For Prosecutors to Promote Prevention and Diversion over Incarceration

The partnership comes at a pivotal time in the fight for criminal justice reform as a growing number of elected prosecutors from across the country pursue reforms that address systemic injustices in our courts and prisons.

April 26, 2018

Fair and Just Prosec­u­tion and the Bren­nan Center at NYU Law Team Up to Develop a Reform-minded Curriculum for Prosec­utors

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Two of the nation’s lead­ing organ­iz­a­tions in crim­inal justice reform announced a part­ner­ship today that will focus on devel­op­ing an innov­at­ive train­ing model for the offices of newly-elec­ted prosec­utors commit­ted to a justice system that moves away from past incar­cer­a­tion-driven prac­tices and towards prin­ciples of equity, fair­ness, and compas­sion.

Fair and Just Prosec­u­tion (FJP) — a national network of elec­ted prosec­utors commit­ted to change and innov­a­tion —  will work with the Bren­nan Center, a think tank at the NYU School of Law, to devise and imple­ment a new curriculum that will help attor­neys move away from our nation’s past punit­ive and incar­cer­a­tion-driven approaches. The part­ner­ship comes at a pivotal time in the fight for crim­inal justice reform as a grow­ing number of elec­ted prosec­utors from across the coun­try pursue reforms that address systemic injustices in our courts and pris­ons.

“For too long, elec­ted prosec­utors have defaul­ted to a ‘tough-on-crime’ approach that has failed to address over­in­car­cer­a­tion and that crim­in­al­izes too many indi­vidu­als strug­gling with mental illness, drug addic­tion or the mani­fest­a­tions of poverty,” said Miriam Krinsky, FJP’s Exec­ut­ive Director. “This part­ner­ship will develop needed train­ing for prosec­utors to promote engage­ment in preven­tion, altern­at­ives to incar­cer­a­tion, and a deeper under­stand­ing of the life exper­i­ences of those who find their way into the justice system.”

As part of these efforts, Lauren-Brooke Eisen will be join­ing FJP as a Train­ing and Curriculum Advisor, in addi­tion to continu­ing her work as a Senior Fellow at the Bren­nan Center.

“We look forward to work­ing with Fair and Just Prosec­u­tion to design this curriculum that will help move offices past incar­cer­a­tion-driven prac­tices,” said Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Senior Fellow at the Bren­nan Center. “Prosec­utors across the coun­try are recog­niz­ing it’s time for change. We should be reori­ent­ing work towards goals built from decades of lessons learned, like redu­cing the number of people behind bars while improv­ing public safety. As crim­inal justice reform groups continue to push for senten­cing reform to fix our nation’s overly-punit­ive culture, we believe that the work can begin right now with the lawyers on the front lines of this broken system.”

The Bren­nan Center and FJP have been lead­ing national voices on the urgent need for culture and prac­tice changes and recently joined together to speak out on these issues and the need for reform. Prosec­utors have histor­ic­ally focused on obtain­ing convic­tions and advoc­at­ing for incar­cer­a­tion-focused responses to the drivers of crime. The goal of this train­ing curriculum is to model a more proact­ive, preven­tion-oriented, and community-focused concep­tion of the prosec­utor’s role in the justice system and prior­it­ize more effect­ive ways to reduce recidiv­ism and improve community safety and well-being.  It will be an outgrowth of both the ongo­ing work of Fair and Justice Prosec­u­tion to bring research, exper­i­en­tial learn­ing, tech­nical assist­ance, and expert think­ing to a new gener­a­tion of elec­ted prosec­utors, and the Bren­nan Center’s two seminal reports, Federal Prosec­u­tion for the 21st Century — the first effort led by prosec­utors to reform their own prac­tices — and Crim­inal Justice: An Agenda for Candid­ates, and Activ­ists, and Legis­lators.

Elements of the train­ing will include:

  • Putting more emphasis on efforts to redir­ect indi­vidu­als to treat­ment services and rehab­il­it­a­tion programs;
  • Promot­ing meas­ures that improve account­ab­il­ity and integ­rity within offices;
  • Encour­aging prosec­utors to consider the impact of incar­cer­a­tion on indi­vidu­als strug­gling with poverty, substance abuse and mental illness; and
  • Facil­it­at­ing the reentry into soci­ety of indi­vidu­als previ­ously incar­cer­ated.

The two organ­iz­a­tions will also cospon­sor “Reima­gin­ing Prosec­u­tion in the 21st Century,” a conven­ing of recently elec­ted prosec­utors this August at NYU, where prosec­utors and advoc­ates, prac­ti­tion­ers, research­ers, and crim­inal justice policy experts will spot­light new initi­at­ives, discuss a national initi­at­ive around build­ing out new meas­ures of “success” and data track­ing, and share ideas about the pivotal role prosec­utors play in reshap­ing the crim­inal justice system.

Read more in The Atlantic’s CityLab.