100 years of Nelson Mandela

Adam Foss on the Mass Incarceration Epidemic in America

It’s no secret that the United States prison system is in desperate need of reform. The U.S. accounts for 4% of the world population but houses 25% of all the incarcerated people on the planet, for which the U.S. taxpayer pays $100,000 per prisoner, per year. To quote 2017 Nelson Mandela Changemaker Adam Foss, “It’s criminal – no pun intended – how many people we have in our jails and prisons. And we (the U.S.) are the only shop in town that does it. We should be embarrassed.”

There’s no question that America has a mass incarceration epidemic.

Foss, a former Assistant District Attorney in Boston, MA, founded Prosecutor Impact with the hopes of re-inventing the role of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system. Through education and training, Foss aims to build a community of like-minded prosecutors who see the societal value in education and rehabilitation. Foss’ ambitious plan includes creating a system where prosecutors are incentivized by alternative metrics for success other than merely “cases won”.

On the Prosecutor Impact website, their mission statement is laid out in clear terms: “We are taking action to improve outcomes for the millions of people impacted by the U.S. criminal justice system.” Check out this 2017 Nelson Mandela Changemaker video highlighting his journey.


Adam J. Foss is a former Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, and a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and the importance of the role of the prosecutor in ending mass incarceration. He is a 2017 Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award winner and a 2018 WORLDZ Master.