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Article Title

The Common Prosecutor

Abstract

This symposium piece stems from the Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal's Criminal Justice Symposium and my engagement with a panel of experts discussing wrongful convictions, pleas, and sentencing. The essay focuses on the role of prosecutors and contends that the system will improve only when more law school graduates of every race, religion, gender identity, background, ideology, ability, sexual orientation, and other characteristics serve as prosecutors. We have witnessed the rise of the “progressive prosecutor.” Now, we need to add more “common prosecutors.”

The homogeneity of prosecutors is well known and well documented. For example, as of October 2020, eighty-five percent of U.S. attorney's offices were led by white men. Yet, the people investigated and prosecuted for crimes are disproportionately people of color. Members of the LGBTQ community and people living in poverty are also disproportionately targeted by our justice system. Filling the office of the prosecutor with significantly more “common prosecutors”--those characterized by a lack of privilege or special status-- will mitigate several flaws in the system. This diversity, for instance, will improve prosecutorial decision-making, increase public confidence in the system, encourage more productive police-citizen interactions, and tend to reduce prosecutor and law enforcement bias. This essay explains why and provides concrete suggestions for how to accomplish such diversity.

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