The Nature and Function of Prosecutorial Power

David Sklansky of Stanford law has published a lengthy history and analysis of prosecutorial power. The abstract:
“Much of what is wrong with American criminal justice — its racial inequity, its excessive severity, its propensity for error — is increasingly blamed on prosecutors. Moreover, prosecutors seem to be getting ever more powerful, not just in the United States but in much of the rest of the world as well. The nature of prosecutorial power and the reasons for its growth remain murky, though. As a result, it is hard to know exactly what to make of prosecutors, or what we should expect from them. There is plenty of thoughtful, well-informed scholarship on prosecutors, especially in the United States, but most of this work is self-consciously pragmatic. It takes the modern prosecutor’s office as a given, a dragon that we find living in our midst and wish to tame. My goal here is slightly different, less immediately reformist. I want to step back and try to understand the dragon: what kind of animal it is and why it is with us.”

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