• Aug 31, 2017

Redefining the role of prosecutors

August 31, 2017
Harvard Law Today

The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School joined forces with the ACLU of Massachusetts to host a daylong conference at Harvard Law School in June, titled “Redefining the Role of the Prosecutor within the Community.”Speakers ranging from former federal judges and assistant district attorneys to activists and scholars convened to discuss the power and scope of prosecutorial functions, the interaction between democratic accountability and prosecutors’ work, how prosecutors make decisions, and possible new models for prosecution.

David Harris, managing director of the Houston Institute, emphasized that the conference represented the intersection of two Houston Institute projects: the Fair Punishment Project, which employs legal research and educational initiatives to highlight the injustices that result from prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective defense lawyering, and racial bias in the criminal justice system, and Community Justice Acts, which facilities grassroots activism to discuss the impact of policies of divestment and mass incarceration on communities of color. Said Harris, “We’re extremely excited about this new environment, in which the conduct of prosecutors is receiving increased scrutiny, and the opportunity this attention presents for mobilizing communities subjected to the harsh and disparate punishment the policies of the past have engendered.”

Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law Tomiko Brown-Nagin, who was named director of the Houston Institute in April, highlighted “the importance of the struggle for ethical and fair-minded prosecutors to the long struggle for civil and human rights.”

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