Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Marlene Biener, Senior Deputy General Counsel

Yale Justice Collaboratory
Caroline Sarnoff, Executive Director

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and The Yale Justice Collaboratory Select Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office for Trust and Legitimacy Pilot Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. and New Haven, Conn. – August 19, 2021– The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, in partnership with Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory, announced today that they have selected the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office as the pilot agency for their Elevating Trust and Legitimacy for Prosecutors Project.

The 15-month project will assess how the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office lawyers and staff currently interact with the surrounding community, which includes witnesses, victims and the accused, and support the implementation of evidence-based practices that increase public trust between the two groups.  The goal is to develop a model for prosecutors’ offices across the country built on the premise that this office belongs to the community, rather than to any elected official or government employee.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office was one of 27 applications from prosecutors’ offices nationwide for the program. The applicants included county-level offices, city prosecutors and statewide attorneys general offices and ranged from small, medium to large organizations.

“Salt Lake County stood out to us as an agency that is ready to embrace the practice of procedural justice both internally and externally,” said David LaBahn, president and CEO, The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. “We saw significant opportunities for them to expand this commitment agency-wide and engage the community in this effort.”

The project will utilize technical guidance from The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory and LaGratta Consulting. Funding support for the project will come from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative grant awarded in August 2020.

“Our job as prosecutors is to keep our community safe, and we need the trust and support of our community to do that. If we are to have genuine criminal justice reform we must be critical without shame or blame and an eye towards a more fair system of justice. We are honored to be selected for this project that will give us access to the nation’s most preeminent expertise and scientific research on building trust and legitimacy in our community,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

The project is based on the theory of procedural justice, an evidence-based practice that focuses on the way police and other legal authorities interact with the public and how people’s perception of those interactions shapes their views of the police and the criminal justice system.

“Scientifically-proven approaches like procedural justice help build stronger and safer communities by focusing on how law enforcement interacts with the public,” said Caroline Sarnoff, executive director, Yale Justice Collaboratory. “As we develop this program for Salt Lake City, we will collect more data and insights that we can share with other districts across the country.”

More information and updates on the pilot program can be found here.

About The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is a nonprofit headquartered in Washington, DC, with the goal of ensuring safer and more equitable communities through prosecutorial training and technical assistance for our membership, which is comprised of elected and appointed prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement professionals as well as a number of various criminal justice system actors. Data transparency in the criminal justice system works towards achieving that ultimate goal of community equity, while also providing prosecutors nationwide with the tools to create a safer today and tomorrow.

About The Justice Collaboratory
The Justice Collaboratory brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and researchers at Yale University and elsewhere to work on issues related to institutional reform and policy innovation and advancement. The Collaboratory infuses theory and empirical research in order to achieve its goal of making the components of criminal justice operation simultaneously more effective, just, and democratic.