Last week, we came together with inspiring reform-minded prosecutors from around the country, who joined us in Los Angeles to share the innovative work being done in their offices and to learn from leading experts in the field.
Prior to the start of our two-day gathering, we met with prosecutors elected over the past year to discuss how they can make the most of their time in office and co-hosted a press conference with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón to lift up the impressive accomplishments of the national movement of reform-minded prosecutors. Together, these leaders are changing paradigms and creating a new normal in the field of prosecution.
We began our two-day convening with an important discussion on approaching public safety through a harm reduction lens featuring Northeastern University Professor Leo Beletsky and Maia Szalavitz, the author of Undoing Drugs. We then heard from policing expert and leader of the LA District Attorney’s citizen use of force review team Je Yon Jung, Special Advisor to the LA District Attorney Diana Teran, and Executive Director of the Orange County Office of Independent Review Sergio Perez on how prosecutors can hold police accountable and enhance oversight of law enforcement. And we heard the all-important perspectives of justice-impacted individuals from Motus Theater, with accompanying inspiring music from Spirit of Grace. With those lived experiences in mind, we talked about how far the movement for reform has come and also the extensive work still to be done if we are to create a fair and just future for all.
“The shortest distance between two people is their story.”
– Juaquin Mobley, Motus Theater
The second day of our convening began with the ever-inspiring Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. Then, we discussed lessons we can learn from criminal legal reforms taking place in LA and from the latest research with Xavier University’s Cheryl Jonson and Co-Deputy Director of California’s Office of Diversion and Reentry Rohini Khanna. Thereafter, Urban Institute's Leigh Courtney and Andreea Matei and University of Wisconsin Professor Cecilia Klingele discussed how to use data to propel change and build data capacity within prosecutors’ offices. Finally, our convening ended with an important conversation on how to make plea bargaining less coercive and more fair and just with Texas A&M Law School’s Cynthia Alkon, Wake Forest Law School’s Ron Wright, and Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law’s Jennifer Teitcher.
“A healed gang member or returning citizen will not ever reoffend.... No one is whole until all of us are whole.”
– Father Gregory Boyle
Many thanks to the amazing experts who joined us to share their insights and to all the elected prosecutors in our network who participated in the convening and shared innovations and best practices with their colleagues. We look forward to seeing how the important information shared by all will spread through offices and communities around the nation in 2022 and beyond!