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Should Good People Be Prosecutors Analysis Research Paper

It is somewhat an oxymoron to consider yourself a prosecutor and a good person. Paul Butler writes describing the discrepancies with progressive prosecutors who believes they are able to change the “definition” of a prosecutor. Butler defines a prosecutor as someone one who is “more part of the problem than the solution” and a person who is “geared toward punishing people whose lives are already messed up. ”

Furthermore, Butler qualifies his definition of a prosecutor by saying the job of some prosecutors is to “mitigate the harshness of the system. This is a failed attempt to mend the system because their principal work applies the criminal laws instead of ameliorating its negative effects. According to Abbe Smith, prosecutors are the main actors in the moral crisis the criminal justice system has created; nevertheless, not all prosecutors are considered “bad people” just as a prosecutor who is progressive is not necessarily a “good person. ” Butler continues to make a distinction between an African American prosecutor and a cretin.

Moreover, Butler introduces “legitimization function” which is the correlation between black prosecutors and black inmates in the criminal justice system that leads people to believe that the criminal justice system is fair. If a black prosecutor sends a black man to jail, how could one possibly call the justice system unfair or racist? Abbe Smith describes the idea of incarceration in America as a contributor to harsh and punitive time, the growing length of prison terms, the conditions of confinement, and the frequency with which we put people to death.

To the progressive individuals who wish to see change in the criminal justice system and the idea of incarceration Butler gives three (3) reasons as to why becoming a prosecutor is the wrong way to go. The first claim that progressive prosecutors make is that prosecutors have a lot of power. As this may be true, all the power is absorbed by the head prosecutor in the office; furthermore, the head of a prosecution office is the most unregulated individual in the entire legal system and solely that individual only.

Prosecutors have the options of circumventing required sentences by leaving out evidence or charging a different crime; giving them more power than judges who abide by sentencing guidelines depending on the charges brought forth. The second claim is the progressive prosecutor makes is that prosecutors help victims. Although this claim is true, the actual victims that prosecutors help are measured on a very small scale (5% of cases) because the majority of the cases prosecutors handle are drug related.

Drug related cases exhibit no actual victim because the one who sells the drugs and the one who buys the drugs are both consenting individuals. As a progressive prosecutor, with the mindset that you are still helping the victims, locking someone in a cage for years does not actually help the individual in any way in terms of rehabilitation. Furthermore, someone who is defined one day as a defendant could be a victim the next day and vice versa. The most effective way to help the victims is to resolve the conditions that create the crime.

The third claim the progressive prosecutor makes is that prosecutors should not be too hardcore or all white. However, the problem with this claim is that a diverse team of prosecutors is actually needed to have a successful office of prosecutors. Referring back to “legitimization function,” African American prosecutors are needed to prove that the conviction of other African Americans is nothing to be alarmed about. Furthermore, as a progressive prosecutor with the idea of bringing diversity to the office you still hold the title of a prosecutor which still does not help either way because individuals are still more or less being convicted.

Butler concludes that working within the system contributes to the problem. Chapter 10 – Whats a Defense? Chapter 10 written by Amy Back describes the various systems of defenses, the complications between Georgia and their chosen system of defense, and the history of defense attorneys as their expectation from the public have increased. Although there are three different systems for providing attorneys, Greene County of Georgia has one of the poorest quality of defense representation throughout the nation.

However, all three systems are flawed, at times underfunded, understaffed, or subject to the humor of judges and prosecutors. The first system and arguably best system is the public defender system. The second systems is the panel program, Lastly, the third is the contract system. Bach describes the public defender structure in which full time defense lawyers are employed by the state, and are provided with central legal research tools. In contrast, the panel program is a system in which “private attorneys on a pre-approved list are appointed and paid to represent indigent defendants as needed.

Further, the third option for defense is the contract system in which one or several contracted attorneys within one more or more counties to represent a fixed or maximum number of cases for a certain fee. Nevertheless, all of the defense systems have their own flaws. Public defenders are usually overworked and unpaid as they are dealing with a multitude of cases at one time. A panel program systems brings the problem of attorney selection. The judge usually makes the attorney assignment which may affect the independence of the attorney who depends on the selection of the judge for his or her source of income.

Although preferred the contract system because it is easier to administer, but it also gives judges implicit power over lawyers. The fight for a better defense system involved Stephen B. Bright who is the president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Right in Atlanta. Bright sits in on various trials to ensure everyone is doing their jobs and the trials are fair. Bright also makes an effort to ensure every defendant has a lawyer. Like Bright, other citizens have demanded the right to counsel as it relates to the 6th and 14th Amendment.

It began with the case Powell vs Alabama in which the defendant’s right to counsel was violated because the attorneys were extremely unreliable or denied the case in its entirety. Powell was a groundbreaking case because it recognized the fact that the right to counsel had to be meaningful. The fight for a proper defense attorney continued with cases such as Johnson vs Zerbst and Griffin vs Illinois which tackled the issues of poverty and inequality in state courts. ABA Standards for Criminal Justice and North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services are organizations to ensure that a lawyer is properly defending a criminal case.

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