Reshaping Prosecution Initiative

Reshaping Prosecution: A Safer and More Equitable Approach

The reform prosecution movement faces a critical moment. With the recent uptick in violent crime, reform prosecutors face unprecedented attacks and calls for a return to “tough-on-crime” tactics. Those attacks rest on the false belief that criminal legal system reforms endanger public safety.

To sustain the movement, reform prosecutors must build the case that their approach will make communities safer, and Vera’s Reshaping Prosecution Program is well-positioned to help them do so.

Reshaping Prosecution operates on the core belief that communities will be safer if fewer people enter the criminal legal system. They work with prosecutors to reduce incarceration primarily by declining and diverting cases and building evidence for alternative approaches. Reshaping Prosecution’s work is guided by three principles, with a focus on supporting safer communities:

  • Shrinking the number of people who enter the criminal legal system

  • Addressing systemic racial disparities

  • Increasing accountability to directly impacted communities

Stop the Stops

Vera is launching a project to work with localities across the country on a safer, fairer, and more equitable approach to traffic stops.

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On-the-ground work with prosecutors

Vera’s team of experts works directly with prosecutors to transform campaign platforms into data-informed policies and practices that better pursue safety by exploring alternatives to traditional prosecution and centering racial equity. Vera’s Reshaping Prosecution team has worked with prosecutors in DeKalb County, Georgia; Ramsey County, Minnesota, Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Fairfax County, Virginia; Ingham County, Michigan; and Chittenden County, Vermont among others.

Vera’s Reshaping Prosecution team works with local prosecutors’ offices in two primary ways: site partnerships and its Motion for Justice campaign.

In site partnerships, Vera works with offices for 12 months to implement policies and build evidence that limiting the number of people who enter the criminal legal system and centering racial equity makes the public safer.

Offices commit to adopting a reform that restricts who they prosecute, declining or diverting cases, and sharing regular data with community members. The process involves implementation support, internal data analysis, community data analysis, and communications assistance to help prosecutors reshape their efforts toward community safety.

Apply Now

In addition to our site-specific work, Vera launched Motion for Justice, through which Vera works with prosecutor’s offices and community-based organizations to improve safety by creating diversion programs that center racial equity. Prosecutors and community organizations join annually as part of a cohort. Resources are available for community members, organizations, and prosecutor’s offices to use without applying. Visit Motion for Justice to learn more:

Motion for Justice

Learn more about Vera’s campaign to center racial equity in prosecution reform

Explore the site

Although Vera’s policy recommendations are targeted based on community needs, we recommend that prosecutors adopt a series of policies to improve safety by limiting who enters the criminal legal system and reducing racial disparities, including:

This collaboration with prosecutors makes communities safer.

Contact us
Akhi Johnson Director, Reshaping Prosecution Initiative
Research solutions to reshape prosecution

One of the defining features of the Reshaping Prosecution Program’s site engagements is that our assessments and recommendations are informed by a rigorous analysis of quantitative and qualitative data.

We speak not just to people who are actively caught up in the system, but also want to hear from their families, loved ones, and people in the neighborhood. We also train community members as co-researchers to do the work in partnership with us—from developing the research design to sharing the results.

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