Guess Who’s the Most Powerful Person In The Justice System

pop quiz who is the most powerful and
influential person in the criminal justice system it’s not a judge it’s
your local elected prosecutor here’s the secret about the American criminal
justice system about 97% of cases are resolved by plea bargain
the judge has almost no role in plea bargaining process so it’s the prosecutor who
decides whether you’re going to go to prison and for how long their daily
decisions with regard to who to charge how to
charge them what prison sentence to seek has been one of the primary drivers of
incarceration so let’s go back in time say it’s 1980 you’re caught for
shoplifting you’re taken to court you might be charged with a misdemeanor
offense and get some community service in 2017 the same charge might result in
a felony and years in prison how did we get here well for years prosecutors have
acted with almost unchecked power they’re almost never hauled into the
courtroom to answer for unaccountable practices and the legislatures have
handed prosecutors more and more power through harsh sentencing regimes forcing
people to accept plea bargains here’s something that a lot of people don’t
know about district attorneys almost all of them are elected politicians
prosecutors have stood in the way of criminal justice reform for decades it’s
going to take a major effort to shift that tide but guess what we’re already
starting to win in 2016 we saw a new wave of prosecutors elected to office
prosecutors who ran on an agenda of reducing incarceration and addressing
racial disparities in cities with district attorneys who support smart
justice they emphasize rehabilitation and treatment over severe punishment
they use scarce taxpayer dollars wisely to support approaches that are more
humane and more effective than incarceration during your next District
Attorney election who are you going to choose

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