When Public Defenders and Prosecutors Plea Bargain Race - A More Truthful Narrative
St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 22-0001, 2021
24 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2022
Date Written: 2021
Stereotypes about public defenders and prosecutors obscure plea bargaining reform. Public defenders are basically good people who are overworked and rendered incompetent by their unmanageable caseloads. Prosecutors wield unfettered discretion solely to advance their conviction rates, not to achieve just outcomes. While some of the stereotypes about public defenders and prosecutors may have represented the status quo at an earlier time and may still hold some truth, these biases are frozen in time. They obscure a growing trend in which many public defenders and prosecutors are now actually criminal justice reform activists. These stereotypes omit how public defenders and prosecutors are now incentivized to help reform racialized criminal justice outcomes in plea bargaining race. And they omit, what affirmative steps can be taken to mitigate the problem.
This paper challenges prevailing stereotypes about public defenders and prosecutors and updates it with a more accurate narrative about how reform-minded public defenders and prosecutors can plea bargain race to yield more equitable justice outcomes. This paper re-focuses the plea bargaining race discussion on a more truthful narrative about how public defenders and prosecutors are, and can continue to, change how they plea bargain race to yield more racially justice outcomes. This more accurate narrative describes how public defenders and prosecutors are expanding the plea bargaining process from a solely retributive focus to include a restorative focus.
Keywords: Stereotypes, criminal justice, reform, plea bargaining, race, public defenders, prosecutors, retributive, restorative, racialized justice, race, racially disparate outcomes, implicit bias, progressive prosecutor
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