Vera Institute of Justice Partners with Prosecutors to Improve Public Safety

The Reshaping Prosecution initiative will provide prosecutors in Texas and Tennessee with policy expertise, data analysis, and educational tools to address public safety in their communities.

MARCH 14, 2023
Contact: Nico MacDonald,, 212-376-3138

NEW YORK — Today, The Vera Institute of Justice’s Reshaping Prosecution initiative begins partnerships with Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy (TN) and Fort Bend District Attorney Brian Middleton (TX).

Vera will assist each office with implementing reforms and building evidence that alternative approaches can be a better path to safety than incarceration through its policy expertise, implementation and training support, and analysis of data from the office’s case management system. In addition, reforms will be guided by research conducted in collaboration with community members, who will be trained and hired as co-researchers.

Each office will work closely with Vera for one year to implement a new policy and identify other reforms to support a vision of safety and accountability defined by its community. Although historically prosecutors have relied solely on charging and incarceration to address most offenses because policymakers believed doing so improved public safety, research suggests that those practices are sometimes ineffective in doing so, and in some cases, incarceration can lead to an increase in crime. As a response to this research and evidence, these offices’ new community accountability programs, sometimes called diversion programs, will target the underlying problems that led to the incident of crime in the first place instead of only considering charging and incarceration. Addressing the root causes of community instability and centering survivors of crimes in community accountability programs not only can improve community safety and reduce crime but has proven to be a cost-efficient alternative too.

“Prosecutors have the discretion and responsibility to explore new approaches that better support public safety,” says Akhi Johnson, director of the Reshaping Prosecution initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice. “Far too many people are incarcerated and confined inside U.S. jails and prisons. Research has shown that relying primarily on tools of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration hasn’t made us safer. These issues are complex, but we believe that people closest to the problem are closest to the solution, and we look forward to helping each jurisdiction better understand what their communities need to feel safe.”

“I’m pleased that Vera Institute of Justice, one of the premier national criminal legal system reform organizations has chosen our office. They can help us use local data and national best practices to devise a plan to address our most pressing crime issues,” says Steve Mulroy, District Attorney, Shelby County. “A plan which, unlike the past decade’s ‘throw away the key’ approach, can be both humane and actually work.”

“A Texas prosecutor’s duty is not to convict, but to see that justice is done. Justice for our victims, justice for the accused, and justice for our communities. Our goal is genuine and lasting public safety. So we owe it to our community to explore all options for reducing crime, and especially decreasing the number of repeat offenders,” says Brian Middleton, District Attorney, Fort Bend County. “Partnering with the Vera Institute will provide the research tools necessary to explore those options and the power to mine the data to support them. All at no cost to our taxpayers.”


About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit