Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Joins Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and John Jay College of Criminal Justice to Launch New Institute for Innovation in Prosecution

Friday, October 16, 2015
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris will join Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and President Jeremy Travis of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the formation of a partnership to launch the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP).  Attorney General Harris will serve on the Institute’s Advisory Board. 

The Institute will bring together prosecutors, academics, law enforcement officials, and other leaders to develop practical solutions to the critical issues facing the criminal justice system in the 21st century, including how to ensure public safety while at the same time improving fairness in the system.

“For too long, criminal justice policy in America has been framed by a false choice: that one is either ‘tough on crime’ or ‘soft on crime,’” said Attorney General Harris. “This has led to short-sighted policies that erode the public’s faith in the criminal justice system.  By taking a ‘smart on crime’ approach, this partnership will assist in the development and implementation of innovative, data-driven prosecution strategies that will lead to a more transparent, fair and effective criminal justice system.”

“Our investment in IIP represents our bid to ensure that this pivotal moment for criminal justice reform does not pass us by,” said District Attorney Vance. “As a brick-and-mortar think tank housed within a national research university, IIP is uniquely positioned to drive innovation and analysis of the ‘big issues’ confronting prosecutors in the years and decades to come. IIP will advance comprehensive policy solutions reflecting the very best in justice innovation – policies which increase safety and fairness at the same time.”

Affiliated with John Jay’s National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC), the IIP will be led by an Executive Director and will develop program offerings designed to drive policy and procedural changes in the American justice system. The Institute’s wide range of programs will include executive-level forums, professional development, and research opportunities to help enhance prosecutorial strategies, including a workshop for new prosecutors and an executive session on the emerging role of the prosecutor. Through these programs, the IIP will serve as a national laboratory to reimagine the role and function of prosecutors.

Among the initial topics that the Institute will examine include:

  • Implicit bias in prosecutors’ offices;
  • Data-driven prosecution and investment in preventative crime fighting strategies;
  • Pre-trial diversion and release, including a risk assessment and evidence-based approach to achieving better and fairer outcomes for those who enter the criminal justice system;
  • Planning for release and re-entry, including bringing prosecutors, judges, and corrections officials together to design and invest in education and skill development for incarcerated individuals in order to maximize success post-release;
  • Best-practice models for police-involved fatal encounters with civilians; and
  • How prosecutors can best address the impact of gun violence.

The three-year, $3 million in funding being allocated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is the result of settlements with international banks that violated U.S. sanctions. The IIP will be guided by an Advisory Board comprised of Attorney General Harris and the following national leaders in criminal justice reform:

Anita Alvarez
State Attorney, Cook County

Lenore Anderson
Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice

Paul Butler
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

John Chisholm
District Attorney, Milwaukee County

Mai Fernandez
Executive Director, National Center for Victims of Crime

George Gascon
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco

Nancy Gertner
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Law School

Jackie Lacey
District Attorney, Los Angeles County

Garry McCarthy
Superintendent, Chicago Police Department

Anne Milgram
Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Foundation

A.C. Roper
Chief of Police, Birmingham

Kathy Fernandez Rundle
State’s Attorney, Miami Dade

Dan Satterberg
Prosecuting Attorney, King County (Seattle)

Seth Williams
District Attorney, Philadelphia

Ronald Wright
Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law

The Advisory Board is scheduled to convene its first meeting in October.

Attorney General Harris has demonstrated a career-long commitment to improving the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. In 2013, she created within the California Department of Justice the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-Entry to curb recidivism in California by partnering with counties and District Attorneys on best practices and policy initiatives.

This year, she also launched Back on Track Los Angeles, a comprehensive reentry program with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Probation, and other key partners; directed a 90-day Review of her Division of Law Enforcement’s policies on use of force and implicit bias; convened law enforcement leaders to share best practices through her 21st Century Policing Working Group; created the first POST-certified course on Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias in the U.S.; and developed a pilot body-worn camera policy within the Department of Justice. Last month, she launched OpenJustice, a first-of-its-kind open data initiative that released unprecedented criminal justice data to strengthen trust, enhance government accountability, and inform public policy.

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