In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of the professors. This project-based practicum course will work with the Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence to focus on emerging issues of importance to prosecutors and will provide opportunities for doing research that will support the growing national movement of prosecutors who are developing statewide Best Practices Committees. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.
SEMINAR: The criminal justice system is undergoing a period of re-examination and reform. The Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence (PCE) is working with prosecutors to improve the criminal justice system and to assess emerging issues. PCE supports the development and growth of statewide Best Practices Committees that provide an on-going process for prosecutors to be part of this national discussion. Twenty states have formed such committees, with more states in the development phase. The critical topics being addressed by Best Practices Committees and covered in the practicum will be:
- Concerns about identification of the perpetrator, including current research on memory and development of identification procedures
- Ensuring the integrity of statements of the accused, including interrogation methods, articles on false confessions, and recording of statements
- Managing forensic evidence, including new forensic science, laboratory standards, and dealing with problems in forensic science
- Exploring the challenges of digital evidence, including using digital evidence for investigative purposes, privacy vs. public safety, and ethics and digital evidence
- Engaging in an understanding of prosecutorial ethics, including law enforcement ethics and conviction integrity units
- Reducing crime and building community trust, including community prosecution, crime strategy units, and research on crime prevention
PROJECT WORK: Under the direction of the professors, students will engage in:
- Legal work for the Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence, which supports practicing prosecutors and the growing number of statewide Best Practices Committees for prosecutors. More specifically, students may work on emerging issues facing the criminal justice system relating to: identification procedures, statements of the accused, forensic evidence, digital evidence, ethics, and how to reduce crime and build community trust. Students will have individual or group assignments, depending on the topic. Students may also draft materials for the National Resource Center for Prosecutors, which is a resource that gathers and categorizes articles on policy issues of importance to statewide Best Practices Committees for prosecutors.
- Research for Prosecutors’ Statewide Best Practices Committee. Students may serve statewide Best Practices Committees by responding to needs for research on pressing issues in a particular state. Students may also participate in developing ways to enhance the functioning of Best Practices Committees and how to maximize the dissemination of information about emerging issues and innovative practices. Finally, students may participate in some Best Practices Committee meetings.