Leveraging Prosecutorial Power to Safely Reduce Jail Populations: A SWOT Analysis


Lisel Petis
Resident Senior Fellow, Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties

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Executive Summary

Prosecutors hold tremendous power to fill and empty jail cells. As administrators of justice, they have a duty to use this power effectively to uphold justice for victims, the community and the accused. In other words, they must balance their commitment to support public safety with their duty to protect the rights of the accused. Importantly, research has shown that limiting individuals’ exposure to jail can improve public safety and effective alternatives to incarceration can ensure that those who have committed a crime are still held accountable. Thus, to strike a balance between upholding public safety and implementing effective alternatives that can reduce jail populations, prosecutorial power and discretion must be used strategically. To help prosecutors’ offices achieve this balance, we have created a SWOT analysis to explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of taking action and leveraging prosecutorial power to safely lower jail populations.

Press release: Prosecutors can help safely reduce jail populations

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