"The United States is, as in so many things involving the criminal justice system, the country most in need of change. It is also, because of the entrenched constitutional bases of its prosecution systems, probably the most resistant to change," Michael Tonry argues in Prosecutors and Politics: A Comparative Perspective.
The latest volume in the Crime and Justice series presents research that critically examines the role of prosecutors within the United States and cross-nationally, asking the question: Can policy makers look across national boundaries to find ways to improve their own national systems?
Prosecutors are influential figures in any criminal justice system. They decide what crimes to prosecute, whom to pursue, what charges to file, how aggressively to seek a conviction, and what sentence to demand. However, very little research is available that examines how prosecutors function in different legal systems around the world.
"Citizens should want to know how such powerful officials exercise their discretion; whether and how personal ideology, political beliefs, or partisan affiliation affects the decisions made; whether the gender, race, or ethnicity of prosecutors, defendants, and victims affects decisions; and whether prosecutors behave more justly and consistently in some types of systems than others" writes series editor, Tonry.
By bringing together case studies from Japan, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the states of Washington, North Carolina, and Arizona, Tonry hopes to identify which kinds of systems, or aspects thereof, better promote values of equality, justice, and rationality.
Michael Tonry is Director of the Institute on Crime and Public Policy and holds the McKnight Presidential Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota. For more information, contact Michael Tonry or visit the University of Chicago Press website.