This year, the Loyola Law Review Symposium is brought to you in conjunction with the Vera Institute of Justice.
Reforming Prosecution: Methods, Politics, and Context
Date: March 11, 2022
Time: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Location: Loyola New Orleans College of Law, Rm. 405
Skills Credit is available for Loyola Law students & CLE Credit credit is available for local practitioners that attend.
If you are attended virtually and are seeking CLE credit, please fill out this form after the event. If you have any questions pertaining to CLE credits, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will track your attendance via Zoom, and report your hours accordingly. Please make sure you are signed into the Zoom with your correct, full name to ensure we track your hours properly. Here are instructions on how to change your name before or during a meeting.
Register for this event here.
Welcome & Opening Remarks (9:00 a.m. – 9:30 am)
Panel 1: Methods of Reforming Prosecution I: To Jail or Not to Jail? (9:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.)
At the core of a prosecutor’s power is the power to seek the incarceration of an individual as punishment for a criminal violation. How should the power to incarcerate be exercised? This panel will feature reform prosecutors and staffers from across the nation who will discuss the policies and practices of their office regarding bail recommendations, charging, diversion programs, and plea bargaining. Regarding these areas, panelists will detail how their current practices differ from those of preceding administrations, any modifications in their approach since assuming office, and their long-term goals.
- Sarah George, State’s Attorney, Chittenden County, Vermont
- John Choi, District Attorney, Ramsey County, Minnesota
- Sarah Omojola, Associate Director, Vera Institute of Justice
- Professor Kerrel Murray, Columbia Law School
Panel 2: Methods of Reforming Prosecution II: …Until Proven Guilty (11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.)
The office of the prosecutor is responsible for making the case for the guilt of an individual charged with a crime. The traditional perspective on the adversary system holds that prosecutors should zealously pursue a guilty verdict and leave justice to the judgement of the jury. How should reform prosecutors approach the pursuit of truth and justice in the courtroom? This panel will feature reform prosecutors and staffers from several cities who will discuss the policies and practices of their office regarding discovery, investigations (including working with police), judicial policies, and appeals. Regarding these areas, panelists will elaborate in detail on how their current practices differ from those of preceding administrations, any modifications in their approach since assuming office, and their long-term goals.
- Sherry Boston, District Attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia
- Robert Jones, Co-Founder, Free-Dem Foundation
- Mark Gonzalez, District Attorney, Nueces County, Texas
- Professor Janet Hoeffel, Tulane Law School
Lunch (12:20 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.)
Panel 3: The Politics of Reforming Prosecution (1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
Reform prosecutors are assailed from both sides of the ideological spectrum. Traditionally, it has been argued that reform policies undermine public safety, while other activists increasingly call for the wholesale abolition of prisons and police. Can reform prosecutors navigate these poles and maintain electoral majorities amongst the broad public that is equally concerned about crime and mass incarceration. What factors influence whether or not reform prosecutors can deliver public safety to their constituents while shrinking the carceral state?
- Jason Williams, District Attorney, Orleans Parish, Louisiana
- Scott Peyton, Right on Crime
- Carol Siemon, District Attorney, Ingham County, Michigan
- Ameca Reali, Law for Black Lives
- Jee Park, Executive Director, Innocence Project New Orleans
Keynote: The Social Context of Contemporary Mass Incarceration (3:10 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.)
Professor Christian Bolden, Loyola New Orleans
The prosecutorial reform movement is largely attributed as a response to mass incarceration. But where did mass incarceration come from? How does it relate to structural changes in the economy over the past several decades? How did the punitive turn in American criminal justice generate a popular constituency? How and to what extent was it opposed in its early stages, and why did this opposition fail? What are the possibilities and limits of reform prosecution in turning the tide?