Unlocking the Box: How the Prosecutorial Transparency Act Will Empower Communities and Help End Mass Incarceration
Locally elected prosecutors wield enormous and unaccountable power that has contributed to both mass incarceration and sever racial disparities. Across the country, voters are beginning to recognize the extent of this power, and are demanding that they reverse course. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have no way to know if their prosecutor shares their priorities. There is little publicly available information about prosecutors’ policies and practices. Trying to obtain private information from their offices is often difficult and time-consuming. While a growing number of prosecutors’ offices have started making some information public, these efforts are piecemeal, inconsistent, and subject to change depending on who’s in office.
We want to change that.
The “Prosecutorial Transparency Act” outlined in this report creates a framework for how state legislators can hold their prosecutors accountable with rigorous, standardized methods for data collection and publication.
Holding prosecutors accountable is impossible so long as prosecutorial power remains hidden from public view. Passing the Prosecutorial Transparency Act in every state is a necessary step toward reversing the nationwide crisis of mass incarceration and ensuring that communities have the information they need to hold these powerful elected officials accountable – and offering us the tools we need to transform and ultimately shrink prosecutor power.