“Want to End Mass Incarceration? Stop Blindly Reelecting Your Local Prosecutor”

“Want to End Mass Incarceration? Stop Blindly Reelecting Your Local Prosecutor” May 29, 2015

Something about that headline is very very Voxy, but this article is a good intro if you haven’t been following this aspect of the situation:

…A prosecutor is also often the only public official standing between a defendant and prison time. More than 90 percent of criminal convictions are resolved through a plea agreement, meaning only prosecutors and defendants — not judges and juries — have almost all the say in a great majority of cases that result in incarceration or some other punishment.

Prosecutors have also been at the center of police killing investigations over the past year following the deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York City, and Brown in Ferguson, among others. It was a prosecutor — Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby — who decided to file charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s death. It was two prosecutors who guided the grand juries that decided not to file charges against the officers involved in Brown and Garner’s deaths, with no one else able to dictate how prosecutors should run the hearings.

Despite all of these powers, voters and lawmakers very rarely force prosecutors answer for their records — even as they play a key role in perpetuating the kind of mass incarceration that criminal justice reformers now want to end.

more–one caveat is that I would question any “reform” which calls for more funding for prosecutors’ offices, even if that money is supposed to be for data collection. The “they’re bad because they’re underfunded!” argument, which you get a lot from liberals who aren’t far enough left on criminal-justice, seems like such a primrose path to more vested interests in criminalization, not less. “My job depends on my neighbors being arrested” = not something I want more of. And bills which start out as “this money is for data collection” can easily accrue other fun uses for your money. (Also I’m not sure there will never be enough data to convince most people into or out of mercy.) But anyway this Vox thing is well worth your time.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!