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Local Prosecutors' Response to Terrorism

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2005
97 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study of local prosecutors' roles under State antiterrorism laws enacted since the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) analyzed new/amended State legislation enacted between September 2001 and October 2003. It identified four major types of legislation: the creation of new criminal offenses, enhancements/amendments to existing offenses, additional responsibilities for local prosecutors, and enhancement/changes to intelligence gathering responsibilities and capabilities. APRI designed a survey that examined local prosecutors' involvement in homeland security under these legislative changes, along with the ways in which prosecutors' offices' organizational structure had changed to facilitate their involvement. Other issues addressed in the survey included how prosecutors were using new/amended antiterrorism laws, challenges in applying these laws, and training needs related to homeland security. The survey included the 112 largest jurisdictions in the country. The survey found that under new and amended State antiterrorism legislation, prosecutors' responsibility in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases has both increased and changed. These changes, particularly an increased attention to precursor crimes, have presented many challenges for local prosecutors. At the State and local levels, prosecutors have changed their process for screening, investigating, and prosecuting certain criminal offenses and have emphasized intelligence collection. In addition, prosecutors have implemented information-sharing networks or become part of such Federal networks. The most significant finding, however, was that only a few prosecutors had developed a well-defined role for their offices in responding to terrorism. This may be partly due to the fact that many prosecutors had not dealt with any cases under new or amended antiterrorism legislation at the time of the survey. This should change over time as more prosecutors have an opportunity to use new/amended antiterrorism laws. Extensive exhibits and appended statutory matrixes and additional survey data

Date Published: January 1, 2005