Unlocking the Black Box
Prosecutors’ offices are often black boxes. There is little publicly available information about prosecutors’ policies and practices. Trying to obtain private information from their offices is often difficult and time-consuming. This lack of information makes it virtually impossible to hold prosecutors accountable for what they are doing – and what they are doing makes a difference in mass incarceration and with racial disparities. What’s needed is comprehensive and mandatory transparency from all prosecutors. The solution is statewide legislation that sets minimum transparency standards for elected prosecutors, ensuring that they collect and make public data and policies so they are available to the communities that they serve. The “Prosecutor Transparency Act” outlined in our new report creates a framework for how state legislators can hold their prosecutors accountable.