Prosecutors have a powerful and generally little-understood role in the criminal justice system. Their important powers include accepting or rejecting cases, making decisions about dismissing charges, or moving cases to disposition and recommending a sentence—all of which can critically affect not only individuals but society through their ability to shape our criminal justice system. The Power of the Prosecutor: Gatekeepers of the Criminal Justice System explores the real-world actions and outcomes of local prosecutors through five well-known cases, documenting the variety of pressures prosecutors face both within and outside their offices as they attempt to make the best decisions about crimes and defendants.
Written by individuals who have actively engaged prosecutors in practically every U.S. state over 30 years’ time, the book examines actual case profiles that enable readers to witness how prosecutors reach their behind-the-scenes decisions and grasp how the criminal justice system operates. The authors explain the variations in prosecution, including the effects of policies and priorities, action choices available, and the types of both internal and external relationships with other participants in the system: the police, the courts, the defense counsel, and the community they represent. Readers will come away with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the complexities and pressures faced by prosecutors in upholding justice under a wide variety of conditions.
- Offers understandable explanations of why outcomes vary so widely in the criminal justice system—for example, why one prosecutor's office uses drug treatment programs for first-time offenders and another seeks jail time
- Answers many of the questions raised in Ferguson, MO, and Staten Island, NY, about the role of prosecutors and their discretionary powers
- Presents specific well-known cases to enhance readers' understanding of the intended/unintended consequences of our adversarial system of justice
- Addresses in detail the complex relationships between various parts of the U.S. criminal justice system