Public Policy Lab Faculty Fellow Rely Vîlcică (Department of Criminal Justice) presents:
The Path to Progressive Prosecution: Lessons from Stakeholder Interviews
Across the country, jurisdictions are electing District Attorneys running on a progressive platform promising sweeping changes in policies and procedures, seeking to end mass incarceration and overuse of supervision, improve equity in the distribution of justice, and enhance trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. In Philadelphia, the current administration’s policies represent a seismic shift in philosophy, policies and practices. Yet, within the bureaucracies of the American justice system, it is quite common for DAs to find themselves at odds with other justice decisionmakers and stakeholders, and even their own staff. Collectively, this has the potential to significantly mitigate the effects of reform. In this talk, Dr. Vîlcică will investigate whether the recent prosecutorial-led reforms in Philadelphia can bring about identifiable and sustained changes to the operation of the criminal justice system and to the wider community that it serves. The analysis draws on rich qualitative data, including 100+ interviews with prosecutors and other criminal justice stakeholders in Philadelphia. Findings document how organizational structure, culture, and leadership contribute to the overall organizational climate in which policies were implemented as well as the degree of success or difficulty with the implementation of specific policies. Progressive prosecution policies that require external partnerships face unique challenges and the stakeholder interviews highlight the importance of buy in, at the internal level as well as with external partners. The results hold important implications for understanding how District Attorneys with progressive ideals can implement policies successfully and promote sustainable change.