Prosecutor Research


The recent focus on unconstitutional bail practices and the calls for reducing the incarcerated populations, while maintaining public safety, has put prosecutors in the middle of the justice-reform movement. Unfortunately, federal agencies and legislative bodies have yet to provide a framework from which prosecutors could determine the ideal caseload. The impact of large workloads and inadequate funding create an obvious problem for prosecutors. More importantly, research demonstrates that this challenge increases the likelihood of extended case processing time, decision-making error, plea bargains, stress-related burnout, and turnover. case processing time, decision-making error, plea bargains, stress-related burnout, and turnover. Given the urgency and the need for policy-oriented solutions, it is pertinent that evaluate prosecutor budgetary constraints and its impact on staff, case processing, and case outcomes.

Benefits of Research

CJR’s prosecutor research aims to provide a framework for change on the improvement of prosecutorial decision making and the potential for progressive prosecution. Our findings help inform evidence-based recommendations that will improve the ability of prosecutors to reduce racial disparities, address mass incarceration and maintain public safety.


Without an accepted standard, prosecutors have been left to determine their own metrics. Despite the missed opportunities to establish a standard, the responsibility lies in the hands of an already overburdened district attorney. High caseloads without agreed benchmarks and metrics of success are yet more examples of a dysfunctional criminal justice system. Justice reform requires an understanding of the state of prosecutorial caseloads.


Determine caseload/workload standard
Understand the relationship between prosecutors and public defenders
Implement pre-charge diversion programs

Meet the Team

Howard Henderson, Ph.D.

Jennifer W Bourgeois, Ph.D.

Tri Keah Henry, Ph.D.

Kimberly Harris, Ph.D.

Melissa Kwende, MHCA

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Prosecutor Diversions
  • Project Description

To determine the costs of diversion, this project will examine the ability of prosecutor diversion programming to reduce recidivism while addressing racial/ethnic disparities.  Additionally, the study will examine the costs and benefits of diversion programs with specific attention paid to outcomes beyond recidivism.

  • Research Questions
  • How effective diversion programs are at addressing recidivism and reducing racial and ethnic disparities?
  • What are the financial and social costs and benefits of diversion?