prosecutor; criminal justice reform; criminal law


In a law review article written seventeen years ago, Professor Abbe Smith asked the question, “Can You Be a Good Person and a Good Prosecutor?” Professor Smith ultimately answered the question in the negative. Whether or not one agreed with her conclusion at the time, today we know that the answer to the question is “Yes.” Anyone who believes that good people cannot be good prosecutors assumes and accepts a model of prosecution based on harsh, punitive policies and practices that incarcerate as many people as possible for as long as possible. Unfortunately, that unjust model of prosecution is the norm in far too many prosecutors’ offices. It is a model, however, that we cannot afford to accept. Fortunately, it is not the only model. There are good people currently serving as prosecutors who are implementing a new model of prosecution—one that seeks to reduce the use of incarceration, eliminate racial disparities, and provide second chances. If we ever hope to fix our broken criminal justice system, we must work to replicate that model throughout the country.

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