Should Consistency Be Part of the Reform Prosecutor’s Playbook?

1 Hastings J. Crime & Punish. 169 (2020)

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper 20-9

28 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020 Last revised: 11 Jun 2020

See all articles by Kay Levine

Kay Levine

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: May 15, 2020

Abstract

In this piece, I explore the value of consistency in a prosecutor’s office that is committed to racial justice, fiscal responsibility, and strategies to reduce the size of the carceral state. I argue that consistency of process, rather than consistency of outcome, is the principal value that leadership ought to embrace in furtherance of its reformist goals. In prioritizing consistency of process, the office would design a “prosecutorial calculus” to guide line prosecutors’ case management decisions (i.e., it would identify the factors that should influence whether and what to file, how to handle pre-trial release, and what to offer as a plea deal). The calculus would also shape the formation and maintenance of relationships with the bar and with law enforcement. All prosecutors within a given office should follow the calculus, irrespective of team or unit assignment. Prosecutors in other offices, however, will fall outside of its reach due to strong localist headwinds and entrenched political realities. In emphasizing consistency of process, I suggest that prosecutors ought to foreground the meaningful provision of procedural justice in their working lives.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Kay, Should Consistency Be Part of the Reform Prosecutor’s Playbook? (May 15, 2020). 1 Hastings J. Crime & Punish. 169 (2020), Emory Legal Studies Research Paper 20-9, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601928 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601928

Kay Levine (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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