Episode 3: Who Built Mass Incarceration? Prosecutors
Play episode · 51 min

Who has had the biggest impact on the growth of our incarceration system? It’s not the judge, the jury, or the legislator. It’s not the police, and it's certainly not the President. It’s someone else—the prosecutor. Prosecutors are getting more attention now than ever, but many people still don’t know what they do.  

Prosecutors don’t just play an important role at trial. It is prosecutors who recommend what bail a judge should set, prosecutors who decide whether a person should face criminal charges and what those charges should be, and prosecutors who control the plea deal process. Perhaps more than anyone else, prosecutors are responsible for our mass incarceration epidemic. On this episode, we’ll explore the impact prosecutors have and take a look at how they wield their immense power.

We’ll talk about the problems with prosecutors, and their excessive power, negative incentives, and almost total lack accountability. We’ll also talk to John Pfaff, a lawyer, economist, and prosecutor expert, whose book, Locked In, examines the power of prosecutors.

 Want to know more? Check out theappeal.org

Politics in Question
Politics in Question
Julia Azari, Lee Drutman, and James Wallner
Should the Democrats play hardball in 2021?
In this week’s episode of Politics In Question, Matt Green joins Julia, Lee, and James to consider whether Democrats should play constitutional hardball if they control Congress and the presidency in 2021. Matt is a professor (and chair) of the Department of Politics at the Catholic University of America. His research focuses on political institutions (especially Congress), state and local politics, and federalism. Matt is the author of numerous books and articles on Congress and is currently working on a research project examining cases of legislative hardball at the state and federal levels. He is also a staff writer at _Mischiefs of Faction_. What is constitutional and legislative hardball? Is it a bad thing in and of itself or does that depend on what Democrats use hardball to accomplish? Is it possible to undermine the political system by using the rules authorized by that system? These are some of the questions Matt, Julia, Lee, and James discuss in this week’s episode.Show Notes Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, _How Democracies Die_ (New York: Broadway Books, 2018). Mark V. Tushnet, “Constitutional Hardball,” _Georgetown University Law Center_ (2004). Lee Drutman, _Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy_ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). Keith E. Whittington, _Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The President, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History_ (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). Jacques Derrida, _Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001_ (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002). David Hume, _Political Essays_, ed. Knud Haakonssen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Hannah Arendt, _Between Past and Future_ (New York: Penguin Books, 1977). James Madison, “Federalist 58,” in _The Federalist Papers_.
56 min
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