Sarah V. Hart

Sarah V. Hart

Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia District Attorney

Sarah Hart has worked for over three decades in the criminal justice field at the federal, state and local levels.

From 1979-95, she served as a prosecutor in Philadelphia where (for 9 years) she represented the District Attorney in federal prison litigation involving mass releases of pretrial detainees. During this time, she provided substantial assistance to the U.S. Congress in drafting the Federal Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

From 1995-2001, Mrs. Hart served as the Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections where she successfully defended the constitutionality of the PLRA in the federal courts.

From 2001-2005, following unanimous Senate confirmation, she served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice (the research and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Justice) where, among other things, she developed the national $1 billion DNA initiative.

After an appointment as a Visiting Professor teaching graduate school courses at Rutgers University, she returned to Philadelphia to represent Philadelphia District Attorney in class action litigation concerning the Philadelphia Prison System. During this time she represented the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association in crafting comprehensive, bipartisan prison reform legislation in Pennsylvania that enacted sweeping changes in sentencing and parole practices. (Acts 81-84 of 2008).

Mrs. Hart previously served as Vice Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of the American Corrections Association, a member of the Executive Committee of the Criminal Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Crime Victims Law Institute, and as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Procedural Rules Committee. She has also provided extensive training on the PLRA and corrections issues to the National Institute of Corrections, the National Association of Attorneys General, and the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Mrs. Hart has published articles relating to corrections, forensics, and domestic violence. A recent publication focuses on the benefits and costs of prisoner class actions.

S. Hart, Evaluating Institutional Prisoners’ Rights Litigation: Costs and Benefits and Federalism Considerations, 11 U. Penn. J. Const. L. 73 (2008).

She is a graduate of Rutgers Law School and the University of Delaware.



  • B.A., University of Delaware
  • J.D., Rutgers Camden School of Law