Recognizing the vital importance of understanding the ramifications of their weighty decisions, over 40 elected prosecutors from around the nation committed to personally visit the local jails, prisons and juvenile facilities in their jurisdiction. In conjunction with this commitment, they also pledged to implement requirements for all prosecutors in their offices to visit these facilities and to incorporate this concept into ongoing job expectations.
“Prosecutors have an obligation to see and understand the conditions in the jails and prisons where their advocacy sends people, as well as the impact of those decisions on the individuals incarcerated within their walls, their families and the broader community.”
-Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution.
While prosecutors have immense influence over who becomes incarcerated and for how long, many have never set foot inside a correctional facility. As more prosecutors implement reforms to shrink the footprint of the justice system, Fair and Just Prosecution felt the need to develop a deeper understanding of conditions in correctional facilities — including an understanding of how isolating, dehumanizing and unsafe conditions can impact an individual’s rehabilitation efforts, and in turn the safety of the communities to which they return.
“As a veteran prosecutor who has been doing these types of visits for years, it’s encouraging to see a new generation emerging that is coming to terms with the weight of their power and taking steps to ensure they understand their impact on the lives of incarcerated individuals and their families, not just theoretically, but in practice as well.”
-Portsmouth, VA Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales
In addition to better understanding conditions of confinement, this pledge offers an opportunity to close the distance — physically and methaphorically — between prosecutors and those who enter the criminal justice system. In doing so, we hope prosecutors will build greater understanding of the human struggles, conditions and lack of individual and community resources that can lead someone to become involved in the criminal justice system. And with this understanding, we hope to build a chorus of voices who will be fierce advocates for justice not only at the moment of disposition of a case, but at every moment within the system.
“Our jobs do not begin or end at the point of conviction. It is our weighty responsibility as ministers of justice to use our voices to ensure our justice system is rooted in the humanity of people and that requires consistent advocacy at all points along the way, including once someone has been incarcerated.”
-Kings County, NY District Attorney Eric Gonzalez
The initiative is a build out of FAMM’s #VisitAPrison challenge, an effort to encourage elected policy leaders throughout all levels of government to personally visit correctional facilities. The pledge will be implemented by the participating prosecutors’ offices listed below over the coming year, during which time elected prosecutors, as well as all prosecutors in their offices, will complete visits to their local correctional facilities, and implement ongoing requirements for their staff.
“We need to end our reluctance to look behind prison walls, and regularly engage with the men and women we have sent there in order to envision something better for them and for their communities.”
-King County (Seattle), WA Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg
For updates as the pledge is implemented, including key takeaways from those visits, be sure to check in on FJP’s Medium and Facebook pages. And if you are a prosecutor who wants to join the pledge please reach out to Scarlet Neath at email@example.com.
Read the full pledge statement here and see below for a full list of pledge participants.
State Attorney, Ninth Judicial Circuit, Florida
District Attorney, Contra Costa County, California
Prosecuting Attorney, St. Louis County, Missouri
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Loudoun County, Virginia
District Attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, California
District Attorney, Jefferson County, Alabama
County Attorney, Ramsey County, Minnesota
District Attorney-Elect, Ulster County, New York
District Attorney, Sixth Judicial District, Mississippi
District Attorney, Sixteenth Judicial District, Mississippi
District Attorney, Dallas County, Texas
Benjamin R. David
District Attorney, Sixth Prosecutorial District, North Carolina
District Attorney, Durham County, North Carolina
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, Virginia
Thomas J. Donovan, Jr.
Attorney General, Vermont
District Attorney, Twentieth Judicial District, Colorado
District Attorney General, 20th Judicial District, Tennessee
Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis, Missouri
Sarah F. George
State’s Attorney, Chittenden County, Vermont
District Attorney, Salt Lake County, Utah
District Attorney, Bexar County, Texas
District Attorney, Kings County, New York
District Attorney, Nueces County, Texas
District Attorney, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Albemarle County, Virginia
District Attorney, Prosecutorial District Six, Maine
Attorney General, Delaware
Justin F. Kollar
Prosecuting Attorney, County of Kaua’i, Hawaii
Lawrence S. Krasner
District Attorney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
District Attorney, Fort Bend County, Texas
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Portsmouth, Virginia
Marilyn J. Mosby
State’s Attorney, Baltimore City, Maryland
Karl A. Racine
Attorney General, District of Columbia
District Attorney, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
District Attorney, Santa Clara County, California
District Attorney, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Prosecuting Attorney, King County, Washington
District Attorney, 22nd Judicial District, Mississippi
Carol A. Siemon
Prosecuting Attorney, Ingham County, Michigan
District Attorney, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
District Attorney, Northwestern District, Massachusetts