Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Community Prosecution

I spent the last couple of days in Washington DC at the invitation of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, which put together an advisory council dedicated to the subject of community prosecution. In many respects, it reminded me of similar gatherings that I participated in back in the mid-1990s. Back then, district attorneys like Joe Hynes in Brooklyn, Mike Schrunk in Portland, Ronnie Earle in Austin and Scott Newman in Indianapolis were pioneering a new approach to law enforcement that emphasized community engagement, creative problem solving and investments in crime prevention. I found all of this extremely stimulating as I was in the process of planning the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Certainly, there is significant overlap between the community court model and the strategies employed by community prosecutors. The past decade has had some ups and downs as far as community prosecution goes, but with a new Attorney General who is committed to these ideas, I'm feeling extremely positive about the prospects for a new wave of prosecutorial innovation. I feel doubly so in the aftermath of this week's council meeting, which featured a vibrant discussion that included a range of prosecutors I had never met before, including representatives from Atlanta, Milwaukee, Dallas, Los Angeles and other major cities.