DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston
More than two-dozen elected prosecutors from across the country met in Atlanta on Sept. 17 with law enforcement leaders to discuss criminal justice reform and how to work together to address racial disparities, shrink the footprint of the justice system and build safer, healthier communities. The symposium focused on how to promote practical strategies and solutions that address 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.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston, who co-hosted the national group, said the symposium provided much-needed dialogue between justice partners across the nation.
“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 Boston.
Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, the organizer of the meeting, said prosecutors such as Boston are the key to transforming the justice system.
“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,” said Krinsky. “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.”
Organizers said key takeaways from the symposium 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.
“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,” Krinsky said.