Rural Spaces, Communities of Color, and the 'Progressive' Prosecutor
19 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 2, 2020
The concept of the “progressive prosecutor” has captured the attention of many newspapers, media outlets, district attorney candidates, legal scholars, and the public at large. The success of candidates declaring themselves progressive prosecutors has been tracked with much excitement by those who have sincere interests in criminal justice reform and has been lauded in many reform-minded camps.
These progressive prosecutors, while located throughout the country, seem to have one geographic commonality — they generally hail from large cities or even urban metroplexes: These include Wesley Bell in St. Louis, Rachael Rollins in Boston, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Kim Foxx in Chicago. In the meantime, disproportionate contact between police and minorities has increased in the rural reaches of the country, with prosecutors seemingly growing less reform minded with rates of incarceration in rural jurisdiction increasing.
This paper joins others in casting suspicion upon the notion of progressive prosecution, questioning whether such an appellation should exist given the current nature of the job in the United States. It also serves as a warning; that while such prosecutors have seemed to become more common in large cities, that practitioners and scholars should not forget that reforms that occur in large jurisdictions sometimes do not extend to those suffering injustices in small communities.
Keywords: prosecutor, legal ethics, ethics, professional responsibility, progressive prosecutor, criminal law, rural, rurality, race, class
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