Community prosecution involves a long-term, proactive partnership among the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, the community and public and private organizations, whereby the authority of the prosecutor’s office is used to solve problems, improve public safety and enhance the quality of life of community members.
The National District Attorneys Association encourages the implementation of the four Key Principles of Community Prosecution:
1. Recognizing the Community’s Role in Public Safety
Rather than dictating to the public how to handle all crime and safety issues, community prosecutors invite community stakeholders to express their safety concerns, identify neighborhood problems, brainstorm appropriate responses and help the prosecutor’s office establish priorities.
2. Engaging in Problem Solving
Community prosecutors are problem-solvers who focus not merely on individual crimes once committed but on such acts within a context. They view individual acts as having a history, potentially a future, and as part of a problem or set of problems within a community.
3. Establishing and Maintaining Partnerships
The criminal justice system is an interlocking network of agencies and departments that depend on each other to operate effectively. Community prosecutors build on these natural connections, encouraging greater communication, improved coordination, and stronger partnerships.
4. Evaluating Outcomes of Activities
For community prosecutors, evaluating effectiveness cannot be solely decided upon a conviction rate. Community prosecutors must evaluate their activities and impact on neighborhoods, continuously adapting to the community’s needs.