Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Delma Banks was convicted of capital murder in Texas and sentenced to death. Just ten minutes before he was scheduled to die, the United States Supreme Court stopped his execution and a year later reversed his sentence. The Court found that the prosecutors in his case withheld crucial exculpatory evidence.

Dwayne Washington was charged with assault with intent to kill and armed burglary in the juvenile court of Washington, D.C. Two adults were arrested with Dwayne and prosecuted in adult court. The prosecutors in the adult cases threatened to charge Dwayne as an adult if he refused to testify against the adults. When Dwayne said he could not testify against them because he didn't know anything about the crime, the prosecutors charged him as an adult, and he faced charges that carried a maximum sentence of life in an adult prison.

Andrew Klepper lived in Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He was arrested for attacking a woman with a baseball bat, sodomizing her at knifepoint with the same bat, and stealing over $2,000 from her. The prosecutors in his case agreed to a plea bargain in which Andrew would plead guilty to reduced charges. As part of the agreement, Andrew would be placed on probation and sent to an out-of-state facility for severely troubled youth, where he would be in a locked facility for six to eight weeks, followed by intensive group therapy in an outdoor setting. Andrew's parents—a lawyer and a school guidance counselor—agreed to foot the bill. Andrew's two . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.