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Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

2011

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Sacrificing Quantity For Quality: Better Focusing Prosecutors' Scarce Resources, Stephanos Bibas Apr 2011

Sacrificing Quantity For Quality: Better Focusing Prosecutors' Scarce Resources, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay responds to Adam Gershowitz’s and Laura Killinger’s article The State (Never) Rests: How Excessive Prosecutorial Caseloads Harm Criminal Defendants. The authors rightly argue that prosecutorial overwork harms justice in any number of ways: it delays cases, frustrates victims, makes it harder to spot and free innocent defendants, and impedes lowering punishments for sympathetic defendants. The root problem, however, is less about underfunding than about skewed priorities and metrics of success. Too often, prosecutors do not think strategically about using their discretion to proactively set priorities and focus on system-wide tradeoffs. Throwing money at the problem ...