Thirty-nine elected prosecutors issued a statement Thursday hitting back at attacks by Attorney General William Barr on reformist policies they have pursued.
The joint statement outlines what its signers say are tangible, positive outcomes in their respective jurisdictions as result of these policies, including the rate of homicides and shootings falling in Chicago and an increased focus on unsolved homicides over low-level offenses in Baltimore and Boston.
The statement also pushes back against what they call the “tough on crime era” that the prosecutors say has posed a disadvantage to the poor and communities of color, while benefitting the “powerful and wealthy.”
“We will not go back to the fear-driven ‘tough on crime’ era. We will not adhere to policies that failed to make our communities safe and punished poverty, mental illness or addiction — policies that filled prison beds and made our country an international outlier in our rate of incarceration,” the statement reads.
“We will not cater to the powerful and wealthy while plundering the poor and communities of color. We will continue to implement solutions that are proven, focus our resources on solving serious crimes, and work to reduce our nation’s bloated incarceration system. We will uphold the rule of law, and we will apply it fairly,” it adds.
Signers of the letter include Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Cook County, Ill., State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, Suffolk County, Mass., District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
The statement highlights what it says are necessary community initiatives that go beyond simple criminal enforcement, including improved mental health services, harm reduction policies and safe-injection sites to reduce fatal overdoses.
“This is our vision of safety and justice. And it is working. We will not return to the days where the powerful and the corrupt walk free while the poor languish in a jail cell – despite attempts by some to bring us there,” the statement reads.
“We will not deepen the divide and distrust between law enforcement and communities of color. The voters and our communities demanded better, and so do we.”
Progressive prosecutors have been a frequent target of Barr’s, with the attorney general Barr blasting unnamed DAs who have declined to prosecute some nonviolent offenses as “anti-law enforcement” in an August speech to the Fraternal Order of Police.