SALT LAKE CITY – prosecutors have traditionally been focused on the courts and guilty verdicts, but their roles are in the midst of a changing criminal justice reforms, a changing crime and increased public opinion.
District attorneys from across the united states gathered in Salt Lake City on Thursday and Friday to say that they are printed on things like Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration and police units. They are also confronted with more elections challenges, often of reformist candidates.
“In the past, I don’t think people really pay much attention,” said Denver district Attorney Beth McCann. “I think as officers we have to respond and get ahead of some of this.”
McCann and other officers of justice said in a panel discussion Thursday they take a broader approach to the task, calculating data, working on crime prevention programs and increasing access to mental health treatment.
“You should know, not just what your jury trial success is, but what is your relapse,” said the Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who said a loved one struggle with a mental illness inspired her to start a program to get more suspects in the mental health programs.
In Denver, prosecutors are trying new ways to deal with teenagers carrying guns.
“I really have trouble with what is the right thing to do with a 14-year-old, who shoot and kill someone, or permanently maims the child for life,” McCann said.
In Phoenix, Maricopa County District Attorney Bill Montgomery said his office is also sending people to diversion programs and working with the community and victims groups to stop crime.
But Montgomery, who has been criticized in TV ads linked to liberal billionaire George Soros, also said that the criminal work should be free of political division.
“I do not believe that there is such a thing as a progressive justice or a conservative justice,” he said.
Crime is also increasingly untethered from the geographic division, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Such as violent crime has decreased, particularly in New York City, cybercrime has filled the gap and he has a new team of people dedicated to the fight.
“I don’t think we have an idea how to deal with cybercrime at the national level,” he said. “This is just to roll us.”