Vera Institute of Justice Partners with Six Prosecutors and Community Organizations to Improve Public Safety and Racial Equity

Vera Institute of Justice’s Motion for Justice program will improve public safety and center racial equity through new diversion programs.

August 16, 2023

Contact: Nico MacDonald,

New York, NY– Today, the Vera Institute of Justice announced six new partnerships as part of its Reshaping Prosecution initiative’s Motion for Justice program. Vera will provide six community organizations with financial support to expand its diversion programming and provide six prosecutors’ offices with data analysis, staff training, community engagement support, and policy expertise to increase diversion, pursue reforms centered on racial equity, and show they are better paths to safety.

The Motion for Justice program creates pathways for prosecutors to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve to create community-informed policies and practices that improve public safety and tackle racial disparities in the criminal legal system. As part of this program,

Vera will assess incoming racial disparities at the front end of the prosecutors’ offices’ caseloads (e.g., assess disparities in terms of cases received and filed, charges filed, and potential differences in other measures of neighborhood socioeconomic status) to promote transparency, evaluate if the diversion program promotes public safety and racial equity, and build support for program revisions or expansions that better help the office meet the needs of the communities they serve. Additionally, Vera will assess the outcomes of the diversion program from the community-based organization after implementation by looking at both the prosecutor’s office’s and the community-based organization’s data.

“As a former prosecutor, I know the unique and immense responsibility that prosecutors hold. To improve public safety, we must build stronger connections between prosecutors and the communities they serve,” said Mona Sahaf, acting director of the Reshaping Prosecution initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice. “I am thrilled to partner with prosecutors and community organizations to tackle the deep-rooted inequities that continue to impede the safety of our communities.”

“We’re excited to receive the Vera Institute’s support for our continuing efforts to use evidence-based diversion practices to reduce recidivism, protect public safety, and promote a healthier community,” said Jim Hingeley, the commonwealth’s attorney for Albemarle County, Virginia.

"Grit Into Grace, Inc. is honored to partner with the Vera Institute of Justice to provide a choice for women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking to seek restorative services as opposed to incarceration." Stefanie Jeffers, founder & CEO of Grit Into Grace.

“The Excellence and Advancement Foundation, along with our partners, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and Amala Foundation, are excited to partner with Vera Institute of Justice to show the community that diversion for children and racial equity equals public safety,” said Courtney Robinson, founder & CEO of The Excellence and Advancement Foundation.

“Our office is excited to continue our partnership with Vera, a partnership that began with a juvenile court diversion project in 2021, where we partnered with Hale Opio to divert youth from the criminal justice system into Teen Court,” said Rebecca Like, County of Kaua`i prosecuting attorney. “Our new diversion program will focus on behavioral health. The goal of this new diversion program is to divert low-level offenders with mental health issues through Ho`ola Lahui, where they will receive ongoing services. It is our hope that through providing behavioral health and medical services, we can catch individuals upstream and prevent them from continuing to violate the law.”.

“More than almost any other state, Vermont disproportionately polices, prosecutes, and imprisons Black people in a criminal legal system that causes profound harm," said Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform Executive Director Tom Dalton.” This new program will help take corrective action and make our communities safer by providing a more effective alternative to incarceration that addresses root causes of justice system involvement like homelessness, substance use disorders, and mental health disorders.”

Vera will provide the following support to prosecutors’ offices and community-based partners:

  1. Diversion program implementation
  2. Training support
  3. Data analysis
  4. Capacity building for sustainability

Members of this cohort include Hennepin County District Attorney Mary Moriarty and Urban Ventures in Minnesota, Travis County District Attorney José Garza and The Excellence and Advancement Foundation in Texas, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George and Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform in Vermont, Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney James Hingeley, Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph Platania and Central Virginia Community Justice in Virginia, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears and Grit into Grace in Indiana, and Kaua`i County Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like and Ho`ola Lahui in Hawai`i.


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