The criminal justice reform movement has rightfully focused on prosecutors as key actors in bringing about much-needed change. Dozens of reform-minded prosecutors have been elected throughout the country promising to tackle mass incarceration while keeping their communities safe. They will not succeed unless they redefine what it means to be a “successful prosecutor.”
Today, local prosecutors measure themselves by three core metrics: how many people are indicted on criminal charges, how many cases they try and how many convictions they secure (either through guilty pleas or convictions after trial). For too long, these metrics have been used to decide promotions and raises, and to confer professional capital, dictating who gets the best cases and whose work is celebrated.
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