This November, elections for district attorneys will be on the ballot in Harris County and in localities across the United States. Prosecutors and district attorneys are among the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system. From pre-trial decisions to plea deals to sentencing, prosecutors have wide discretion and influence over whether a person will be charged with a crime, whether they will remain in jail until their court date and, if convicted, whether they will be incarcerated. During decades of “tough-on-crime” policies and politics, prosecutors have presided over rising incarceration rates and racial inequities in the criminal justice system. Now, district attorneys’ offices are facing calls for reform, including from prosecutors themselves.
This panel, featuring Jamila Hodge from the Vera Institute of Justice, Harris County district attorney Kim Ogg and Sandra Guerra Thompson from the University of Houston Law Center, discussed the role of prosecutors in advancing a more just and equitable justice system. Katharine Neill Harris, the Alfred C. Glassell, III, Fellow in Drug Policy, moderated the discussion.
This webinar, sponsored by the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program and offered in collaboration with the Center for Health and Biosciences, is the fourth in a series of discussions at the Baker Institute about mass incarceration, racial equity and public health. It was also part of the Baker Institute 2020 Election Series, which highlights critical policy issues ahead of the 2020 presidential election. This webinar series features institute fellows, scholars and guests discussing a range of critical domestic and foreign policy issues in the lead up to November 3.
Follow @BakerDrugPolicy on Twitter, and join the conversation with #BakerJustice.
Slides from the webinar are available for download here:
1:00 p.m. — Presentation
1:30 p.m. — Q&A
Jamila Hodge, J.D.
Director, Reshaping Prosecution Program, Vera Institute of Justice
Kim Ogg, J.D.
District Attorney, Harris County
Sandra Guerra Thompson, J.D.
Newell H. Blakely Chair and Director, Criminal Justice Institute, University of Houston Law Center
Katharine Neill Harris, Ph.D.
Alfred C. Glassell, III, Fellow in Drug Policy, Baker Institute