prosecutor; criminal justice reform; criminal law


In 2001, Abbe Smith asked provocatively whether you can simultaneously be a good person and a good prosecutor, and she concluded that you cannot. The following online symposium, hosted by the Fordham Law Review Online, revisits Abbe Smith’s question. Even if she was right in 2001, is the answer the same seventeen years later? The problems of criminal justice in this country have in many ways gotten worse. But at the same time, one might argue, there is broader public acknowledgment of these problems, which has led to social movements such as the Innocence Movement and Black Lives Matter that have strengthened efforts for criminal justice reform. And while Professor Smith identified various prosecutors whose offices were considered to be “progressive” even in 2001, the contemporary movement has included successful efforts to elect prosecutors with civil rights and criminal defense backgrounds, such as Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who campaigned against mass incarceration and promised reform. The Fordham Law Review Online is pleased to publish the contemporary reflections of Abbe Smith and six others who bring varied perspectives, and take different sides, regarding the question she asked in 2001. The Symposium serves as an occasion for considering the present state of the criminal justice system and of prosecutors’ role in it, and an opportunity for an interesting exchange of views.

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Criminal Law Commons