DA Boston Among Consortium of Elected Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Leaders Joining Forces to Discuss Justice Reform for the 21st Century
ATLANTA – On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, more than two dozen elected prosecutors from across the country met in Atlanta with law enforcement leaders to discuss common ground on criminal justice reform and how they can work together to address racial disparities, shrink the footprint of the justice system and build safer, healthier communities. Their conversations focused on how to promote practical strategies and solutions that address concerning and longstanding issues around racial equity. The group also discussed a shared vision for justice in the 21st century and how reform-minded criminal justice leaders can support each other in advancing that vision, even in the face of resistance to change.
“While prosecutors hold great power to enact change, systemic progress requires that all actors in the criminal justice system make a commitment to reforms that further equity, accountability and directly challenge the ways in which our system has failed communities, especially communities of color,” said DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston, one of the co-hosts of the meeting. “Yesterday’s conversation started a much needed dialogue that I am confident will enable justice system partners with a shared vision to join forces to build a justice system that promotes strong, safe, and healthy communities.”
Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, the organizer of the meeting, also remarked, “We are in a unique and exciting moment where a growing number of elected prosecutors such as DA Sherry Boston are embracing a different – and more humane – starting point for our justice system. In advancing these priorities, it is critical that they come together with law enforcement leaders to find common ground. We hope this conversation is the beginning of a sustained dialogue that helps build understanding, trust and strong alliances among some of the most inspiring criminal justice leaders in the nation, all of whom share an abiding commitment to advancing public safety and strengthening bonds of trust with their communities.”
Key takeaways from the convening include:
- A growing group of elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders are shifting the way they see their roles – creating an opportunity to move from purely punitive and carceral approaches of past decades toward a more holistic approach to addressing crime.
- Enacting bold change in the justice system has garnered criticism and even hostility toward prosecutors and law enforcement leaders seeking to advance reform; strong and thoughtful alliances are needed to address and respond to these counterforces to change.
- Reform-minded prosecutors and law enforcement leaders across the country are committed to building and sustaining collaborative relationships to advance policies and practices that honor the dignity of people and communities most impacted by the criminal justice system. These strategies are ones that will both fortify community trust and enhance public safety.
Attendees at the meeting included: District Attorneys Diana Becton (Contra Costa County, CA), Sherry Boston (DeKalb County, GA), Scott Colom (16th District Court, MS), Satana Deberry (Durham County, NC), Michael Dougherty (Boulder County, CO), Mark Dupree (Wyandotte County, KS), Eric Gonzalez (Kings County, NY), Mark Gonzalez (Nueces County, TX), Christian Gossett (Winnebago County, WI), Andrea Harrington (Berkshire County, MA), Larry Krasner (Philadelphia, PA), Beth McCann (2nd Judicial District, CO), Brian Middleton (Fort Bend County, TX), Rachael Rollins (Suffolk County, MA) and Tori Verber Salazar (San Joaquin County, CA); Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner (City of St. Louis, MO); Prosecuting Attorneys Dan Satterberg (King County, WA) and Carol Siemon (Ingham County, Michigan); State Attorney Andrew Warren (4th Judicial Circuit, FL); State’s Attorneys Sarah George (Chittenden County, VT) and Marilyn Mosby (Baltimore City, MD); District Attorney-Elect Jody Owens (Hinds County, MS); Commonwealth’s Attorney-Elect Parisa Tafti (Arlington and Falls Church, VA); Sheriffs Jerry Clayton (Washtenaw County, MI), Garry McFadden (Mecklenburg County, NC) and Steve Tompkins (Suffolk County, MA); Chiefs of Police Mary Gavin (Falls Church, VA), Danielle Outlaw (Portland, OR) and Erika Shields (Atlanta, GA); Former Chiefs of Police Brendan Cox (Albany, NY) and Ronald Davis (East Palo Alto, CA); Former Police Captain Tracie Keesee (Denver, CO); Former Sheriff Sue Rahr (King County, WA); as well as Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Roy Austin, Former Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity, White House Domestic Policy Counsel.
Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, noted: “It’s encouraging to see more law enforcement leaders recognize the failures of past ‘tough on crime’ decades and honestly reflect on the role that law enforcement and prosecutors alike have played in those failures. Conversations like these are critical to finding areas of agreement that we can build upon to create a system that communities can trust and that promotes the public safety we have all sworn to protect.”
Fair and Just Prosecution is a national network of elected prosecutors working towards common-sense, compassionate criminal justice reforms. To learn more about FJP’s work, visit http://www.fairandjustprosecution.org/ or on Facebook @FairAndJustProsecution.