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What happens when public prosecutors, the most powerful officials in the criminal justice system, seek convictions instead of justice? Why are cases involving well-to-do victims often prosecuted more vigorously than those involving poor victims? Why do wealthy defendants frequently enjoy more lenient plea bargains than the disadvantaged? In this eye-opening work, Angela J. Davis shines a much-needed light on the power of American prosecutors, revealing how the day-to-day practice of even the most well-intentioned prosecutors can result in unequal treatment of defendants and victims. Ranging from mandatory minimum sentencing laws that enhance prosecutorial control over the outcome of cases, to the increasing politicization of the office, Davis uses powerful stories of individuals caught in the system to demonstrate how the perfectly legal exercise of prosecutorial discretion can result in gross inequities in criminal justice. For the paperback edition, Davis provides a new Afterword which covers such recent incidents of prosecutorial abuse as the Jena Six case, the Duke lacrosse case, the Department of Justice firings, and more.
What happens when public prosecutors, the most powerful officials in the criminal justice system, seek convictions instead of justice? Why are cases involving well-to-do victims often prosecuted more vigorously than those involving poor victims? Why do wealthy defendants frequently enjoy more lenient plea bargains than the disadvantaged? In this eye-opening work, Angela J. Davis shines a much-needed light on the power of American prosecutors, revealing how the day-to-day practice of even the most well-intentioned prosecutors can result in unequal treatment of defendants and victims. Ranging from mandatory minimum sentencing laws that enhance prosecutorial control over the outcome of cases, to the increasing politicization of the office, Davis uses powerful stories of individuals caught in the system to demonstrate how the perfectly legal exercise of prosecutorial discretion can result in gross inequities in criminal justice. For the paperback edition, Davis provides a new Afterword which covers such recent incidents of prosecutorial abuse as the Jena Six case, the Duke lacrosse case, the Department of Justice firings, and more.
Inscribed on the walls of the United States Department of Justice are the lofty words: "The United States wins its point whenever justice is done its citizens in the courts." Yet what happens when prosecutors, the most powerful officials in the criminal justice system, seek convictions insteadof justice? Why are cases involving educated, well-to-do victims often prosecuted more vigorously than those involving poor, uneducated victims? Why do wealthy defendants frequently enjoy more lenient plea bargains than the disadvantaged? In this timely work, Angela J. Davis examines the expanding power of prosecutors, from mandatory minimum sentencing laws that enhance prosecutorial control over the outcome of cases to the increasing politicization of the office. Drawing on her dozen years of experience as a public defender, Davisdemonstrates how the everyday, legal exercise of prosecutorial discretion is responsible for tremendous inequities in criminal justice. Davis uses powerful stories of individuals caught in the system to illustrate how the day-to-day practices and decisions of well-meaning prosecutors produce unfairand unequal treatment of both defendants and victims, often along race and class lines. These disparities are particularly evident in prosecutors' charging and plea-bargaining decisions and in their muddy relationships with victims. Prosecutors not only hold vast power, Davis argues, but they arealso under-regulated and lack accountability. The current standards of practice for prosecutors are unenforceable, while the mechanisms that purport to hold prosecutors accountable are weak and ineffectual. Not only does lack of oversight result in injustices, it may even foster a climate tolerantof unfair practices and in some cases, misconduct. Offering a sensible agenda for comprehensive review and reform, Arbitrary Justice challenges the legal community and concerned citizens to pursue and enact meaningful standards of conduct and effective methods of accountability to help prosecutors serve their communities and the interests ofjustice.
A comprehensive, readable analysis of the key issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, this thought-provoking and compelling anthology features essays by some of the nation’s most influential and respected criminal justice experts and legal scholars. Policing the Black Man explores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process, from arrest through sentencing. Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men. The contributors discuss and explain racial profiling, the power and discretion of police and prosecutors, the role of implicit bias, the racial impact of police and prosecutorial decisions, the disproportionate imprisonment of black men, the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, and the Supreme Court’s failure to provide meaningful remedies for the injustices in the criminal justice system. Policing the Black Man is an enlightening must-read for anyone interested in the critical issues of race and justice in America.
Drawing on his personal fascinating story as a prosecutor, a defendant, and an observer of the legal process, Paul Butler offers a sharp and engaging critique of our criminal justice system. He argues against discriminatory drug laws and excessive police power and shows how our policy of mass incarceration erodes communities and perpetuates crime. Controversially, he supports jury nullification—or voting “not guilty” out of principle—as a way for everyday people to take a stand against unfair laws, and he joins with the “Stop Snitching” movement, arguing that the reliance on informants leads to shoddy police work and distrust within communities. Butler offers instead a “hip hop theory of justice,” parsing the messages about crime and punishment found in urban music and culture. Butler’s argument is powerful, edgy, and incisive.
How Can You Represent Those People? is the first-ever collection of essays offering a response to the 'Cocktail Party Question' asked of every criminal lawyer. A must-read for anyone interested in race, poverty, crime, punishment, and what makes lawyers tick.
Rule of law has vanished in America’s criminal justice system. Prosecutors decide whom to punish; most accused never face a jury; policing is inconsistent; plea bargaining is rampant; and draconian sentencing fills prisons with mostly minority defendants. A leading criminal law scholar looks to history for the roots of these problems—and solutions.

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