Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

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Oxford University Press, Apr 12, 2007 - Law - 264 pages
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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.

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Excellent! I bought and read the book after hearing her speak at a Charles Houston Institute lecture series event. Jena Six got lots of attention but the work in Arbitrary Justice digs deep into the issue of prosecutor mismanagement and the role prosecutors play in the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people.  


Prosecutorial Discretion Power and Privilege
The Power to Charge
Lets Make a Deal The Power of the Plea Bargain
Prosecutors and the Victims of Crime
Prosecutors and the Death Penalty
Federal Prosecutors and the Power of the Attorney General
Prosecutorial Misconduct The Abuse of Power and Discretion
Prosecutorial Ethics
Prosecutorial Accountability
Prospects for Reform

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About the author (2007)

Angela J. Davis is Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. Prior to becoming a law professor, she was a public defender at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia for twelve years. She has appeared on various TV and radio programs, written op-eds for the Washington Post, and is often invited to speak to national legal organizations.

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