Community Prosecution

December 15, 2000 • Volume 10, Issue 43
Should prosecutors try to solve local problems?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

Community prosecutor Michelle Presswood and two police officers check out a nuisance property in Indianapolis following a resident's complaint. (Photo Credit: Center for Court Innovation)
Community prosecutor Michelle Presswood and two police officers check out a nuisance property in Indianapolis following a resident's complaint. (Photo Credit: Center for Court Innovation)

Prosecutors traditionally measure their success in convictions and tough sentences. But locking up the bad guys doesn't always lead to lasting reductions in crime in poor neighborhoods. Some prosecutors believe poverty, poor education and a neighborhood atmosphere of neglect just keep breeding new criminals. Saying they want to prevent crime before it starts, some prosecutors are setting up after-school programs to keep kids out of gangs, demolishing abandoned buildings to prevent drug dealing and attending neighborhood meetings to learn local concerns. But critics question prosecutors' qualifications to solve social problems. Moreover, they ask, if prosecutors become champions of purely local interests, will they neglect their duty to prosecute the worst criminals?

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Crime and Law Enforcement
Sentencing and Corrections