Alumnus Derick Dailey ’16 wrote an op-ed, published on NJ.com, on the role current federal prosecutors can play in reforming the criminal justice system.
The current discussion about reforming the criminal legal system is centered on electing progressive prosecutors and sympathetic legislatures working to enact progressive policies. But what should the public expect from prosecutors working right now in offices that are not progressive and in jurisdictions in which laws have not yet been reformed? These individuals must not sit back and wait for the election of a reformist prosecutor or a legislative body to alter the legal landscape, because lives — especially Black lives — depend on prosecutors acting now.
In my experience, far too many prosecutors are myopically focused on holding people accountable for committing crimes. But, in my view, to seek justice, prosecutors must ensure that victims of crimes, defendants and communities are made better as a consequence of their prosecutions. This is where too many prosecutors fail. Indeed, prosecutions often leave defendants and communities worse, especially Black and poor communities and defendants. Resultantly, Black communities are justifiably suspect of the entire system, Black prosecutors included.