STUDIES: "Improving Prosecutorial Accountability: A Policy Review"

The Justice Project has released a new report entitled “Improving Prosecutorial Accountability: A Policy Review.” The report details some of the causes of prosecutorial misconduct and makes recommendations for reform. With a particular focus on preventing prosecutorial errors that lead to wrongful convictions, the study explores how a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed prosecutorial misconduct to persist nationwide. The report states that its recommendations would improve prosecutorial accountability, thereby saving jurisdictions the enormous costs of re-trying cases overturned due to misconduct.

Among the policy review’s recommendations:

· States should require that prosecutors’ offices adopt and enforce clearly defined policies on the appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion.
· States should adopt open-file discovery in criminal cases, increasing the transparency of the criminal justice system and reducing the risk that prosecutors will withhold evidence from the defense.
· States should effectively respond to misconduct by establishing prosecutor review boards with the power to investigate and sanction prosecutors.
· States should require that all prosecutors participate in training and continuing legal education.

The full report may be found here. The Jusice Project is a Washington, D.C., based non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system. TJP has developed a national program of initiatives designed to address the policies and procedures that lead to errors and contribute to wrongful convictions.

(The Justice Project, “Improving Prosecutorial Accountability: A Policy Review,” April 2009). See Studies and Prosecutorial Misconduct.