Volume 60

Why Attacks on Prosecutorial Discretion Are Attacks on Democracy

by Rebecca Blair and Miriam Aroni Krinsky
As communities across the United States have increasingly elected reform-minded prosecutors to lead their local district attorney’s offices, the broad discretion afforded to American prosecutors has faced unprecedented scrutiny. Opponents of criminal justice reform have vigorously contested prosecutorial policies aimed at presumptively ending the prosecution of certain offenses, reducing extreme sentences, and shrinking the criminal […]

Letter from the Editor

by Victoria T. Sheber
Whether directly or indirectly, the American criminal legal system affects every person living in the United States. How we choose to criminalize and punish behavior speaks to what we value as a society and how far we are willing to go to protect those values. The American Criminal Law Review is proud to have been […]

Preface: New Directions in Prosecutorial Reform

by Miriam Aroni Krinsky, Justin Murray, and Maybell Romero
This Preface, which introduces the American Criminal Law Review’s Symposium Issue on Reform-Minded Prosecution, begins by describing the power that prosecutors hold in the criminal legal system, which has historically gone unchecked and unquestioned. As mass incarceration, police violence, and wrongful convictions began to permeate the public consciousness, many communities focused their attention on the […]

Drug-Induced Homicide Laws and False Beliefs About Drug Distributors: Three Myths That Are Leaving Prosecutors Misinformed

by Taleed El-Sabawi, Jennifer J. Carroll, and Morgan Godvin
An increasing number of criminal legal system actors, including some prosecutors, have acknowledged that the so-called “overdose crisis” is a public health problem. Despite this narrative shift, some prosecutors are responding to local overdoses by charging persons who distribute drugs that are linked to a subsequent death with criminal killing. These charges are brought either […]

A Fiduciary Theory of Progressive Prosecution

by Bruce A. Green and Rebecca Roiphe
Progressive prosecutors differ from their more traditional counterparts primarily in the way in which they make decisions. They tend to bind their discretionby announcing categorical policies rather than making fact-based decisions case by case. This Article catalogs the unusual degree of pushback progressive prosecutors have encountered from the public, legislatures, courts, police, and their own […]

Prosecutorial Mutiny

by Cynthia Godsoe and Maybell Romero
Elected progressive prosecutors face resistance on many fronts to their reforms of the overly harsh and racist criminal legal system. One of these forms of resistance is particularly corrosive—internal dissension by line prosecutors. This resistance flummoxes criminal legal system reform and undemocratically interferes with the will of the electorate. This resistance, which we term “prosecutorial […]

Progressive Prosecution or Zealous Public Defense? The Choice for Law Students Concerned About Our Flawed Criminal Legal System

by Abbe Smith
This Article addresses a question asked by many law students concerned about our flawed criminal legal system: should they become a prosecutor in an office run by a progressive prosecutor, or a public defender in an office devoted to zealous, client-centered (or holistic) defense? The Article starts with an anecdote about Philadelphia District Attorney Larry […]

Progressive Prosecutors or Zealous Defenders, From Coast-to-Coast

by Brooks Holland and Steven Zeidman
This Article challenges the narrative that the progressive prosecutor movement can meaningfully transform the criminal legal system and argues that the myopic focus on prosecutors as the solution to all that ails this system further diminishes the critical, and chronically under-resourced, role of the public defender. In presenting this claim, we do not question the […]

Progressive Prosecutors: Winning the Hearts and Minds of Line Prosecutors

by Laurie L. Levenson
The progressive prosecutor movement offers many critical proposals to reform our criminal justice system. However, it has not been able to fully accomplish its goals in many jurisdictions because the newly elected prosecutors have faced pushback, not just from hardline opponents to their reforms, but from the deputy prosecutors in their own offices. For there […]