What We Lost Grieving the Passing of District Attorney Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson Blog
While securing convictions is part of a prosecutor’s job description...he didn’t just answer to conviction rates, he answered as best he could to justice.

As we start to imagine moving forward in a Brooklyn and world without Ken Thompson in it, I think of the young people who were offered the chance to participate in Common Justice on his watch, and who may live long, free lives now, and of the crime survivors who had the opportunity to have their needs truly met because of his clarity of purpose in his partnership with us. I think of all the young people who walked down the street and were not stopped for simple marijuana possession because of his office’s refusal to keep prosecuting these low-level crimes that were so inequitably enforced—people who could not have felt the impact of his role directly but nonetheless were freer because of it. I think of the people who were exonerated when, under his leadership, his office took responsibility for reversing the wrongful convictions that had taken decades of their lives. I think of all of us who looked to him as a beacon for what prosecution in America could become at a time when we cannot afford to spare any sources of hope. And of course, above all, I think of his family, whose loss far surpasses our own, massive though it is.

I don’t think we yet know the full measure of what we lost when Ken Thompson passed on Sunday night. I do know he wanted to pave the way to a different kind of prosecution in America. We can begin to honor his legacy by settling for nothing less.