The Economist recently published an article exploring how “prosecutors came to dominate the criminal-justice system.” The article largely outlines what we already know:
“The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America,” said Robert Jackson, the attorney-general, in 1940. As the current attorney-general, Eric Holder, prepares to stand down, American prosecutors are more powerful than ever before.
Several legal changes have empowered them. The first is the explosion of plea bargaining, where a suspect agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge if the more serious charges against him are dropped. Plea bargains were unobtainable in the early years of American justice. But today more than 95% of cases end in such deals and thus are never brought to trial.
But, this is the second article the appear in The Economist in three days addressing prosecutorial power: A plea for change: American prosecutors have too much power. Hand some of it to judges.
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