Reshaping Prosecution in St. Louis Lessons from the Field

Reshaping Prosecution In St Louis Sq

Overview

Prosecutors wield tremendous power. They decide whom to charge—and with what offense—whether to ask for bail, when to provide evidence to the defense, and what plea offer to make.

For decades, prosecutors have used their discretion in ways that contribute to mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal legal system. However, communities nationwide have recently begun to demand that their elected prosecutors adopt a new approach that reflects the communities’ priorities.

This report details Vera’s pilot partnership with Circuit Attorney (CA) Kimberly Gardner and her office in St. Louis, Missouri. CA Gardner was elected in 2017 after running on promises to reform the criminal legal system. She prioritized reducing the city’s reliance on incarceration, adopting a public health approach to addressing crime, and building trust with marginalized communities. Vera assisted the Circuit Attorney’s Office in adopting a data-driven approach that aligned with CA Gardner’s vision.

Key Takeaway

Over the span of its site engagement with Vera, CA Gardner’s office made significant progress in reducing its case backlog, shrinking the system’s footprint, and increasing its ability to track and analyze data. With this data, the office is preparing a public-facing dashboard to share regularly updated metrics with the community.

Key Facts