What makes a prosecutor powerful?
Local prosecutors are responsible for representing the interests of public safety by determining who gets charged with a crime, what type of crime they get charged with, and what type of punishment to pursue.
Prosecutors are elected in partisan elections every four years, with the next election in Kansas set for 2020.
Law enforcement officers make arrests, juries determine guilt, and judges hand down sentences. But prosecutors alone—without consulting anyone else—decide who gets charged with a crime, what crime they are charged with, which punishment to pursue, and how vigorously to pursue punishment.
Because many Kansans are unaware of the immense power a prosecutor holds, most prosecutors rarely hear from their constituents—if they do at all. This allows them to act in ways that may not be in the best interest of the community with few repercussions.
When prosecutors decide who to charge with a crime and what type of charge to pursue, they are not engaged in a pure, objective application of the law—they are making policy decisions for the entire community.
They can enact smart, common sense policies that strengthen communities, or they can feed into our state’s mass incarceration crisis.
Prosecutors have a wide range of smart justice tools at their disposal to strengthen their communities. Among those tools is diversion, a proven and cost-effective program that allows non-violent offenders a better outcome than prison.
Many Kansans don’t even know who their prosecutor is. Better community engagement can build stronger relationships between prosecutors and their constituents, which leads to better outcomes for the entire community.