Letter: Crime Survivors’ and Advocates’ Support for the Proposed Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution

AP Photo/ Susan Walsh

Dear President Biden:

We, the undersigned, include crime survivors, victim assistance professionals, and allied providers who are committed to helping crime victims and to promoting equitable justice for all. We strongly support the creation of a Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution, as proposed in a recent white paper by Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP), and believe this initiative will strengthen the capacity of our criminal and juvenile justice systems to better identify and meet the needs of crime survivors.

We know that other voices have weighed in supporting this proposal – including over 100 law enforcement and criminal justice leaders, R Street, former DOJ leaders, editorial writers and others. We are writing to add our voice to this growing chorus.

The Task Force’s clear commitment to include survivors of crime and those who serve them on the Task Force and within this important initiative – as that body is conceptualized in the FJP white paper — is very heartening to us. Too often, survivors are an afterthought or not included in important policy and programmatic justice reform discussions which ultimately have a significant impact on their lives. The power of the personal stories of survivors and their lived experiences will be a huge benefit to the Task Force. And there are many promising and proven practices specific to prosecutors and crime survivors – including restorative justice, measures to improve meaningful interactions with survivors, and strategies to improve the implementation of victims’ rights – that we look forward to sharing with the Task Force.

Crime victims and survivors deserve insight and a voice in efforts to improve the administration of justice. Their personal safety and autonomy must be goals centered by any effective commission on justice reform – goals which we have confidence the proposed Task Force would address.

The “17 pillars” that comprise the Task Force proposal so well defined in the FJP white paper are all critically important to its success. We are particularly pleased with the specific focus on “better serving crime victims” – a priority that is central to our individual and collective work. And we strongly believe that “addressing racial and ethnic justice” and “envisioning success, metrics and culture change” are also foundational to improve our capacity and collective lenses to meet the needs of increasingly diverse victim/survivor populations.

We are also committed to working closely with the Task Force to address and hopefully mitigate the false dichotomy that exists among crime survivors and persons who cause harm, and their respective systems of support. We know that most people who cause harm also have histories of previous victimization or acute and chronic trauma in their lives that are important factors to address their needs, and to reduce crime and recidivism. We look forward to being an integral part of this conversation.

We appreciate your consideration of our support for the creation of the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution, and stand ready to assist the Task Force in this timely and important endeavor.

And we hope that you and your Administration act quickly to move this proposal forward and bring a long overdue focus to reform and improvement of our criminal justice system.

Sincerely,

Lenore Anderson, President & Co-founder Alliance for Safety and Justice

Alexander Busansky, President Impact Justice

Amy Fettig, Executive Director The Sentencing Project

William Kellibrew, Founder, The William Kellibrew Foundation

Dean Kilpatrick, PhD, Director, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center

Katie Monroe, Executive Director Healing Justice

Claire Ponder Selib, Executive Director National Organization for Victim Assistance

Danielle Sered, Executive Director Common Justice

Anne Seymour, Director Fairness, Dignity & Respect for Crime Survivors Project

Bridgette Stumpf, Executive Director Network for Victim Recovery of DC

Aswad Thomas, Managing Director Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice

Renee Williams, Executive Director National Center for Victims of Crime

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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