Today’s Solutions: November 26, 2021

While it is crucial we address the problem of police brutality towards people of color, this alone won’t stop racial injustice or solve the deep-seated issues of our criminal justice system. We must look at the courts themselves, specifically the role of the prosecutor.

Prosecutors represent the local, state, or federal governments in court, help investigate crimes, and ultimately decide what charges—if any—to bring against someone. And when there is police violence, it’s the prosecutor who decides whether they should be charged, as well (most of the time, they decide not to).

Most prosecutors are elected, so a key way to effect real change by voting at the local level is to learn about your prosecutor and their record. That’s long been a bit of an arduous task for any citizen to undertake, but a new online directory from Color of Change makes it easy to see how your prosecutor stacks up.

About 1,000 times a year, a police officer shoots and kills someone while on duty, according to Philip Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and head of that school’s Police Integrity Research Group. Between 2005 and 2017, though, only 82 police officers across the country were charged with murder or manslaughter for an on-duty shooting. In that same time period, only 19 officers were convicted, and mostly for lesser manslaughter charges.

“Because people haven’t been paying attention to prosecutors, prosecutors have been operating under the radar,” Robinson says. “Over 70% of prosecutors right now run unopposed for election. These are folks that don’t even feel pressure from the public. They feel pressure from police unions, but not the public.”

The Prosecutor Directory is part of the Winning Justice platform, which was created to educate communities and activists about the state of criminal justice reform, their prosecutors’ stances on policy issues—from money bail to charging juveniles as adults— as well as their districts’ next election and demographics.

To find out about your local prosecutor, you can go to winningjustice.org and search by zip code to see where they stand on six of Color of Change’s demands for reducing mass incarceration. The directory is just one tool on the Winning Justice platform, which as a whole is focused on changing how prosecutors do their job and changing how the public views the role of prosecutors. “If we can do both of those things,” Robinson says, “then we can make real change in this country.”

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions