“Place Matters in Prosecution” 

Wright, Ronald F. and Levine, Kay L. (2017). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 14, No. 675, 2017; Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-432; Wake Forest Univ. Legal Studies Paper. Accessed June 27, 2017 

Paper Introduction: How do prosecutors understand their own professional self-identities? Do they change their images of the prosecutor’s ideal role over the course of their careers? If so, is there a correlation between the place in which the prosecutor works and changes in that professional self-image? We think these questions are important for two reasons, separate and apart from the prosecutor’s impact on the outcomes in individual criminal cases. First, while defendants, victims, and advocates care intensely, maybe even exclusively, about their own case outcomes, the goals of scholars ought to be more complex: our task is to explain the nuances of the living criminal justice organism, not just its end products. For that reason, we should examine various aspects of the system—including the prosecutor’s role—from different angles, using different methodologies, to answer more layered inquiries. Second, although prosecutors hold unmatched power in criminal justice, they do not unilaterally determine outcomes in a straightforward sense. Many factors outside of the prosecutor’s control have a bearing on criminal case outcomes: the triadic relationship between the prosecutors’ office, the bench, and the bar; the political conservatism of the underlying jurisdiction; and the rate of serious crime in the jurisdiction, to name just a few.  These exogenous features shape the space in which prosecutors work; they influence what prosecutors value, and what they are willing to sacrifice or argue for. Scholarship that explores the professional self-image and working environment of prosecutors can reveal how prosecutors use the space available to them, how they respond to or push against local constraints. In short, the prosecutor’s philosophy of the job, beyond just case outcomes achieved, merits sustained scholarly attention in the form of rigorous empirical study…


Unpacking the Relationship Between Prosecutors and Democracy in the United States.

Sklansky, David Alan. (August 24, 2016). Cambridge University Press Forthcoming; Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2829251.

Abstract: What implications does a commitment to democracy have for the regulation of American prosecutors? The answer is complicated, for three different reasons. First, it will depend on our ideas about democracy. In the United States there at least two very different clusters of ideas about democracy — democratic pluralism and participatory democracy — and they have different implications for how we should think about prosecutors. Second, the implications of any understanding of democracy for prosecutors will depend on what we want from prosecutors, and those desiderata vary widely. Reconciling democracy with prosecutors is one kind of task if our expectations for prosecutors are, loosely speaking, “adversarial,” and a different kind of task if our expectations are instead, loosely speaking, “inquisitorial.” Third, expectations for prosecutors do not just vary widely from person to person; most of us, as individuals, want conflicting things from prosecutors, because we have come to depend on prosecutors to mediate between conflicting expectations for the legal system as a whole. As a result, prosecutors blur key boundaries that structure our thinking about criminal justice, a fact that itself makes it more difficult to hold prosecutors accountable in any customary way. Despite — and to some extent because of — these complexities, a commitment to democracy in the United States implies certain imperatives for reforming prosecutors’ offices. One of those imperatives is to increase the demographic diversity of prosecutors; another is to reconsider the emphasis our legal culture increasingly places on flexibility and boundary-blurring; and still another is to give communities better tools for understanding and evaluating the day to day work of prosecutors’ offices.

Does the ‘Community Prosecution’ Strategy Reduce Crime? A Test of Chicago’s Experience.

Miles, Thomas J. August 2013.  Am Law Econ Rev (2014) 16 (1): 117-143.

Abstract: A new strategy of criminal prosecution, called “community prosecution,” emerged in the past two decades. The strategy breaks with the traditional approach to prosecution in which a prosecutor works in an office adjacent to a criminal court, processes a large volume of cases, and measures success with conviction rates and sentence lengths. In community prosecution, a prosecutor works directly in a neighborhood, develops relationships with local groups, aligns enforcement priorities with residents' public safety concerns, and seeks solutions to prevent crime. This article presents the first estimates of community prosecution's impact on crime. Over a fifteen-year period, Chicago's top prosecutor twice applied the community prosecution strategy in some (but not all) neighborhoods, and this sequence of two “off/on” policy episodes permits plausible identification of the strategy's impact. Differences-in-differences estimates show that community prosecution reduced certain categories of crime, such as aggravated assault, but had no effect on other categories, such as larceny. The diversity of practices under the rubric of community prosecution makes generalization difficult, but the estimates from Chicago show that the strategy has the potential to produce cost-justified reductions in crime.

A Framework for High Performance Prosecutorial Services.

Jansen, Steven and Hood, Robert. Prosecutor’s Report III. Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. (2011). Accessed August 23, 2016.


Summary: Summary: Communities are actively looking for ways to contribute to their own safety and security, and community members want to know that they can access the criminal justice system through their local prosecutor’s office. Effective community prosecution relies on the following principles: Harnessing Science and Technology to use as crime fighting tools in the courtroom; Implementing Information Sharing to improve data collection and analysis for partnerships with other agencies and the community; and, Employing Outcome Evaluation to improve the effectiveness of crime prevention.

Smart Prosecution Practices: Seven Recommendations to Integrate Science and Justice.

Jansen, Steven and Wolf, Robert Prosecutor’s Report IV. Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. (2014). Accessed August 23, 2016.

Summary: Despite challenges that may limit prosecutors’ capacity to integrate and implement new technology, it is important that they still strive to gain a better comprehension and appreciation of scientific principles and practices. This publication offers practice tips, discusses the “CSI effect,” and other ways prosecutors can use science to investigate, solve, and prosecute crimes while recognizing the strengths and limits of certain scientific principles.

Choosing Performance Indicators for Your Community Prosecution Initiative

Porter, Rachel Prosecutor’s Report II. Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. (2011). Accessed August 23, 2016.

Summary: Several publications propose that community prosecution always includes the core elements of problem solving, community involvement, partnerships, and evaluation (see Jansen 2008; Nugent-Borakove, Budzilowicz, and Rainville 2007; Wolf and Worrall 2004). To assist prosecutors, this report attempts to synthesize the various goals that community prosecution initiatives have adopted, identifies the objectives associated with these goals, and develops performance measures that can be used to evaluate whether those goals and objectives are met.

Community and High Performance Prosecution