Nation’s leading criminal justice researchers partner for the Center’s first data-driven research initiative

April 6, 2018
Dallas (SMU Dedman School of Law) – The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Dedman School of Law is partnering with some of the nation’s leading criminal justice researchers to conduct the Prosecutorial Charging Practices Project, the Center’s first data-driven criminal justice research project. 
This project is an innovative, mixed-methods, empirical study that is multi-jurisdictional. The Prosecutorial Charging Practices Project will provide a holistic account of prosecutors’ charging practices. Additionally, it will:   
  • produce descriptive and empirical information about the important factors that influence prosecutorial decision-making;
  • evaluate how prosecutorial charging decisions affect cases as they progress through the criminal justice system; and
  • provide a baseline against which to evaluate future prosecutorial practices. 

“This research will represent the varied prosecutorial work of three district and/or county attorneys’ offices in discrete geographical locations, with different charging philosophies, said Pamela Metzger, director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center and professor at SMU Dedman School of Law. “We expect the results to be instructive in determining the relative effects of prosecutorial charging policies on case outcomes.” 
“This is precisely why we were so pleased to welcome the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center to the Dedman School of Law,” said Dedman School of Law Dean Jennifer Collins. “This research is desperately needed in the field. It will shed a light on prosecutor practices, inform policymakers, and help to identify best practices. We are delighted that the Deason Center has launched such an innovative project with such a talented research team.” 
The research will take about 18 months and involve students from SMU Dedman School of Law students as part of the research team. In addition to Metzger, the project will be led by a team of nationally recognized researchers, including:
After publication of its report on the Prosecutorial Charging Practices Project, the Deason Center will make the underlying anonymized data available so that other criminal justice scholars can continue to advance knowledge about this important topic.  The Deason Center hopes to conduct subsequent studies that evaluate how prosecutors’ charging practices affect other actors in the criminal justice system, such as criminal court judges and criminal defense attorneys.