The commissions were inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in South Africa after the end of apartheid, in which victims were able to testify to the abuses they endured, and those who committed such abuses were able to seek amnesty for their actions. The South African commission was not initially focused on prosecuting violators, though charges eventually were pursued in some cases.
It was not clear Wednesday whether the U.S. commissions will seek to create or revisit prosecutions of cases or create different paths to justice. A spokeswoman for the group did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The news release announcing the restorative-justice project said that it was in its early stages, and that each city will begin with pilot projects to enable “district attorneys and their communities to hear from victims of police and prosecutor misconduct and find ways for those victims to heal.” The group expects more prosecutors to join later this year.
Boudin said in a news release that “prosecutors have a special responsibility to promote justice and reconciliation with the communities whose needs have historically been neglected. In San Francisco we are working to not only enact changes and create policies that hold police accountable going forward, but also to build trust with those who have been hurt by the lack of police accountability in the past.”
Each commission “will develop processes and plans,” Rollins said, “to allow persons who have experienced current and former instances of harm at the hands of law enforcement to raise concerns, share experiences, and achieve justice in a process that will be built with marginalized and oppressed groups at the center. We will begin to pursue justice while giving District Attorneys an opportunity to demonstrate that we care about the wrongs of the past, and we want to prevent them in the future.”
Krasner, whose office has helped free 14 men wrongly convicted of murder, said: “As a civil rights lawyer, I watched how this community suffered from law enforcement and prosecutorial overreach, and I know that these harms went unaddressed for many if not most. We cannot go back to fix that, but we can give a voice to those who experienced injustice for years.”