The Common Prosecutor
42 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 12, 2021
This is a symposium piece stemming from Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal's Criminal Justice Symposium and my engagement with a panel of experts discussing "Wrongful Convictions, Pleas, and Sentencing." The essay focuses on the role of prosecutors in the system. It contends that we would benefit significantly if more law school graduates--of every ideology, race, religion, gender identity, background, and other characteristics--served (at least a year or two) as prosecutors. We have witnessed the rise of the "progressive prosecutor." Now, it is time for more "common prosecutors" to take a central role in the system.
The homogeneity of prosecutors is well-known and well-documented. As of October, 2020, for instance, 85% (79 of 93) U.S. attorney's offices were led by white men. Yet, the people investigated and prosecuted for crimes are disproportionately people of color. And, LGBTQ and people living in poverty are also disproportionately targeted by our justice system.
Diversifying the office of the prosecutor with more "common prosecutors" is a big step forward toward improving several flaws in our current system. Adding this diversity among prosecutors will improve prosecutorial decision making, increase public confidence in the system, encourage more productive police-citizen interactions, and reduce prosecutor and law enforcement bias.
Keywords: prosecutors, prosecutorial discretion, diversity
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