A Year in Review: Advancing the Prosecution Profession

Contributing Author: Nelson O. Bunn, Jr., Executive Director, NDAA

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Dear NDAA Members and Colleagues,

As we approach the end of the year, our staff here at the NDAA headquarters would like to thank you for your support and contributions in making 2019 a great year for all of us. We’ve had remarkable achievements over the last 12 months, made possible by your membership and support. As you’ll see below, we accomplished a lot together, and we’re excited about our plans for next year.

Professional Development

One of the achievements we’re most proud of is making great strides in professional development for our members. Our new resources for you include online learning modules, issue briefs, whitepapers, and more. We also acquired a webinar platform this year that provides you with new segments on emerging trends and hot topics in prosecution. You are the reason why our friends, families, and communities are safe and protected, and we want to ensure that you have the resources to be the best prosecutor you can be.

We also wanted to better highlight your work and encourage the sharing of best practices, as well as innovative, new approaches among your networks. To help meet this goal, we launched a newsletter to spotlight the great work you are doing around the country. It can also serve as a valuable resource to help you better protect your communities.

We created a new membership database that makes it easier for you to reach out to each other, which is a vital tool to help improve efficiency and networking

Finally, thank you for making our annual conference on Innovations in Prosecution a huge success. Nearly 50 speakers shared their experiences and knowledge on various topics, including courtroom, office, and community innovations. We can’t wait for next year’s conference to unveil even more positive developments for our communities.

Campaign on Digital Safety

Earlier this year, Microsoft hosted NDAA members at its headquarters to tour the Digital Crimes Unit, and to learn more about the intersection of data, technology, and the criminal justice system. As a result, in August we announced our collaboration with Microsoft to launch our Campaign on Digital Safety to fight and bring awareness to online abuse, human trafficking, and other internet crimes.

Our world is becoming increasingly complicated each day, often enhanced by the rapid development of new technology that interacts with our lives and the criminal justice system. Social media apps make it easier for human traffickers to target, “friend,” and “follow” victims on a larger, more dangerous scale. Smart devices allow domestic violence offenders to abuse remotely. It is paramount that we stay updated on emerging issues in technology and its interaction with the criminal justice system.

We also just announced the Campaign on Digital Safety Advisory Board to help guide this exciting and promising campaign. The board is composed of prosecutors, law enforcement, industry professionals, academics, representatives from state and local governments and organizations dedicated to supporting victims.

Policy Advocacy

This year, we also continued our engagement with criminal justice stakeholders, Members of Congress, their staff, federal agencies and the broader administration on important federal legislation impacting prosecutors and the overall criminal justice system. NDAA has endorsed 30 pieces of legislation while engaging in more than 80 legislative proposals on topics such as Pell Grant restoration, smartphone encryption, human trafficking, child abuse, victims’ rights, gun safety, and digital evidence.

We also worked with Congressional staff to assist in establishing a new House Prosecutors Working Group on Capitol Hill. The purpose of this group is to provide a forum for Members of Congress with prosecution experience to engage in and discuss the pressing issues that face Congress.

Sharing Our Stories as Prosecutors

We recognized that we need to share our stories better — not only among ourselves, but also to the public. While we’re still learning best practices to tell our story, we have seen some great and promising statistics in delivering our message to the public.

In August, we launched our video on the Role of the Prosecutor on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and in an email campaign that the Karpel Foundation and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office graciously supported. As of this writing, 68,300 people and counting have seen the video on these five platforms alone.

We published our first Medium blog post, “25 Ways to Combat or Protect Yourself from Online Abuse,” in September as a part of our Campaign on Digital Safety. We’ve released a few additional posts since then and are looking forward to sharing with you more and varied topics as we continue populating our Medium blog.

Finally, just last month, we announced our new podcast series, Legal Briefs. Our first episode featured Alabama District Attorney Ashley Rich and her efforts to restrict access to underage vapers. We are developing a detailed list of new episode ideas and can’t wait to report back to you what we have in store.

Looking Forward to the Future

NDAA will be holding our annual Capital Conference on January 28–29 in Washington, D.C. This yearly gathering serves as a forum for prosecutors around the country to meet your Congressional delegations to discuss issues impacting your work.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded grants that span the areas of traffic safety, juvenile justice, mental health, data, decision-making, and more. Be on the lookout for the initiatives that we’ll be presenting and welcoming your support for in the coming year.

We’ll also be working on a new project with The Urban Institute to catalog diversion programs in prosecutors’ offices around the country. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative called us pioneers in the field and is supporting our efforts. We’ll be assessing successes and barriers to implementation for the diversion programs. By doing so, we hope to learn how we can effectively improve these programs to ensure maximum progress and success.

Let me say this again — thanks so much for helping to make NDAA’s accomplishments this year possible. I can’t wait to see what else we can do together next year. We will be posting updates throughout 2020, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, our staff here at the NDAA headquarters hopes you’re having a great holiday season. We also wish you a very happy and healthy start to 2020.

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) is the oldest and largest national organization representing state and local prosecutors in the country.

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