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Charging Toward a Conviction

Felony Conviction Rate

When people think about how our criminal justice system tries to avoid convicting innocent people, they probably think of the second half-hour of a “Law & Order” episode: defense attorneys making motions to thwart the prosecutor, jurors furrowing their brows as they wonder whether the state really has met the high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But that’s not reality. In real life, once a prosecutor decides to file felony charges against a defendant, that defendant will almost certainly be convicted — and local prosecutors have a strong incentive to file, likely thanks in no small part to electoral pressures.

— John Pfaff is a professor of law at the Fordham University School of Law in New York City. His research focuses on explaining the causes of mass incarceration, especially the central role prosecutors have played in the process.  

Source: Why do prosecutors go after innocent people? | The Washington Post

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