Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and President Jeremy Travis of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice today announced the formation of a partnership to launch the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution (IIP), a groundbreaking new project designed to support the development of the next generation of ideas and thought leaders in the field of prosecution. The Institute will bring together prosecutors, academics, law enforcement officials, and other leaders to examine and 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.
“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 the nation’s preeminent criminal justice college, 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.”
“As the premier elected officials responsible for criminal justice policy in most American jurisdictions, prosecutors have a critical role to play in this era when the public is asking fundamental questions about issues of fairness and effectiveness of the justice system,” notes President Jeremy Travis. “The IIP will serve as a think tank to develop new responses to the current challenges facing our justice system.”
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 in order to address the evolving nature of criminal justice issues and advance recommendations for practice and training.
Among the initial topics that the Institute will examine include:
- How prosecutors can address issues of racial disparities and implicit bias in the criminal justice system;
- Data-driven prosecution and investment in preventive 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 Institute will build upon the leadership of District Attorney Vance and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which has been at the forefront nationally in developing innovative, data-driven prosecution strategies that are being replicated in several jurisdictions across the country, including Brooklyn, Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, the state of Delaware, and several others.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice has evolved over the past 50 years into the preeminent international institution in criminal justice education. The NNSC, chaired by President Travis and directed by Professor David Kennedy, has worked with scores of jurisdictions across the country to implement proven strategies that reduce violence and improve public safety, minimize arrest and incarceration, and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities. The NNSC brings deep academic and practical experience in fostering partnerships between law enforcement and communities, as well as relationships with dozens of law enforcement leaders, including police executives and prosecutors from around the nation.
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 – co-chaired by DA Vance and President Travis – comprising national leaders in criminal justice reform, including:
State Attorney, Cook County
Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
District Attorney, Milwaukee County
Executive Director, National Center for Victims of Crime
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Law School
Kamala D. Harris
California Attorney General
District Attorney, Los Angeles County
Superintendent, Chicago Police Department
Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Foundation
Chief of Police, Birmingham
Kathy Fernandez Rundle
State’s Attorney, Miami Dade
Prosecuting Attorney, King County (Seattle)
District Attorney, Philadelphia
Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law
The Advisory Board is scheduled to convene its first meeting in October.
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu and follow us on Twitter.
Prosecutors Are Uniquely Positioned to Drive Criminal Justice Reform
Op-ed by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and President Jeremy Travis
October 20, 2015
Wall Street Journal
New Think Tank Aims to Train, Study Prosecutors
October 15, 2015