Jeff Rosen brings a new approach to prosecution. He’s the District Attorney in Santa Clara County, California. He narrowly won election in 2010, and since then he’s made some welcomed waves- he’s bringing some crucial principles of the criminal justice reform movement into the prosecutor’s office. Among his efforts, Rosen created a Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) attached to his office that has already exonerated five people since the unit’s inception in 2011. That’s five people in about six years. Think about that.
The Northern California Innocence Project recently awarded the CIU their #Justice award.
It takes a lot of humility and courage, as a prosecutor (who regularly works closely with police officers, and other law enforcement) to admit not only that you (or your office) have made some mistakes, but to also take the stand to publicly exonerate people your office prosecuted, and in defiance of the police work that made the case against the defendant in the first place. This sense of humility, this sense of human compassion, this sense of honesty (really) is part of the paradigm shift that needs to occur in courtrooms and DA offices around the country. Jeff Rosen, though perhaps not alone, is definitely a minority perspective in the law enforcement world. In more ways than one, Rosen is swimming against the current- and that’s commendable. Let’s hope that he succeeds in his office, so that his message of reform can be multiplied and emulated around the state if not the country.
For more, read this great article from the Vera Institute here: http://humantollofjail.vera.org/a-new-approach-to-prosecution/
Wrongful Convictions occur. They happen. They’re real. As much as you might not want to admit it, as much as you might want to mitigate the importance of this fact, wrongful convictions are a plague still festering in the corpus of our massive criminal justice system. This plague must be addressed. Answers about past wrongs must still come, investigations into current cases need to be increased and supported through the long process that it is to exonerate innocent convicts, and, not lastly, reforms must be enacted in our system to reduce the number of wrongful convictions that occur in the future.
Many thanks, and God bless you.