INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana University Public Policy Institute has selected Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Erika Oliphant for its 2023 John L. Krauss Award for Public Policy Innovation for her work to promote equitable justice in Monroe County. The Krauss Award is given to an individual or entity for applied research or activity that helps Indiana and/or Indiana communities with real-world solutions.
Oliphant’s office worked with Indiana University researchers to examine prosecutorial decision making and its potential impacts on racial and ethnic disparities in Monroe County. Community stakeholders then gathered to examine the results and make recommendations for improvement.
“The justice system often falls short of its constitutional duties to be fair and impartial to everyone,” Oliphant says. “I truly believe this type of assessment is simply the right thing to do and helps us find ways to improve the system while increasing public transparency about what we are doing.”
Oliphant’s office partnered with the Monroe County Branch of the NAACP and a research team led by Paul H. O’Neill Professor Eric Grommon. He says the project is critical because research often focuses on large cities rather than areas that are representative of counties nationwide.
“National policy and practice debates focus on the powerful role prosecutors play in the justice system,” Grommon adds. “This project helped us form a foundation to connect data to prosecutorial decisions, identify plausible contributors to racial and ethnic disparities, and gather community perceptions. I’m confident this type of practitioner-community-researcher approach can help improve transparency in prosecution and assess the effect these decisions have on individuals and communities.”
The research team recently extended its work with Monroe County and expanded it to include Lake County.
The Krauss Award is named after John Krauss who consolidated several research centers to form PPI in 2008. Prior to joining Indiana University in 1991, Krauss was deputy mayor of Indianapolis from 1982 to 1991.
“Through his 10 years as PPI director, John Krauss enabled public leaders to be better decision makers and implement innovative solutions to challenging public problems,” said PPI director Tom Guevara. “We’re proud of the work led by Professor Eric Grommon and his colleagues to assist the Monroe County prosecutor’s office, and especially pleased to present this award to Erika Oliphant and her office for the important, impactful work they are doing.”
Past recipients of the Krauss Award include John L. Krauss; Brian Payne, president and CEO of the Central Indiana Community Foundation; Moira Carlstedt, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership; and the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council.