The report of the Conference of District Attorneys focuses on four topics:
• Recommendations for quality and professionalism include increased anti-bias training for prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as data collection on the quality of representation and racial differences. District attorneys and defense attorneys should get more funding for data collection, staff and other things, the report said.
“In almost all cases, prosecutors across North Carolina carry case numbers that are much larger than recommended,” the report said. “In their own discretion, experts in addressing implicit biases routinely recommend using a slower and more conscious process when evaluating cases.”
Lisa Williams, a Durham attorney, said more funds are important to public defenders as many people, including her, are removing their names from public defenders list.
“I think it’s the pay, the resources, the overwork, the stress,” she said, among other things.
• Alternatives to law enforcement advice include increasing resources for mental health and substance abuse; and expanding the use of conditional discharges, which allow some persons convicted of offenses or minor offenses to be released on parole.
There are currently distraction programs across the country, but also “wide variations in treatment, options and services to effectively support them,” the report said.