In a progressive new initiative unveiled on Monday, nearly 40 U.S. district attorneys will begin visiting prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers on a regular basis as well as incorporating it into their mandatory training and job expectations, The Washington Post reported.
The group Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP) has led the effort in order to encourage prosecutors, who send people into the prison and jail system every day, to understand what it is actually like on the inside, according to the Post.
“No prosecutor should be putting people in places they haven’t seen or walked through,” Miriam Krinsky, executive director of the group, told the Post.
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The prosecutors to sign include: Vermont Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan Jr., Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell; two commonwealth’s attorneys-elect in Virginia: Parisa Tafti-Dehghani in Arlington and Buta Biberaj in Loudoun County and Portsmouth, Va., Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales.
“We had no idea how much of the impact was going to be on us,” Morales told the Post. “We got to see people as family members and community members first. We usually encounter people at their lowest point coming into the criminal justice system.”
Morales said that she has taken her staff to visit prisons since 2016 in order to offer workshops on getting a job after being locked up and reentering society.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg of King County, Wash., who also signed the pledge, told the Post that he has been visiting prisons since law school.
“It quickly injects humanity into our work. When you sit and listen to their stories, most of them had difficult and traumatic upbringings,” Satterberg told the Post. “More people need to see what their local prison looks and need to go home and think about whether they could do a month there, let alone the 20 years the criminal justice system talks about.”