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Book Roundtable

The Prosecutor Paradox

What role, if any, can prosecutors play in ending mass incarceration?

In Dismantling Mass Incarceration, coeditors Premal Dharia, James Forman, Jr., and Maria Hawilo examine the role various actors in the criminal legal system play in sustaining mass incarceration—and the role they could potentially play in ending it.

The essays in this Inquest roundtable, focused on prosecutors, ponder this paradox: How can a role so central to the criminalization and incarceration of so many people also have a hand in ending this crisis? In a coauthored introduction, Dharia, Forman, and Hawilo—all of them former public defenders—ponder this and other questions, followed by five responses from elected prosecutors, advocates, and academics.

On Thursday, Dharia will conclude the roundtable with a final response.

—June 2024

Lead essay

The Prosecutor Paradox

Can a prosecutor, even a progressive or reform-minded one, really help dismantle mass incarceration?

Premal Dharia, James Forman Jr. & Maria Hawilo

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Maybe, If . . .

Believing that prosecutors can play a role in ending mass incarceration requires imagining a prosecutor whose goal is non-reformist reforms.

Bennett Capers

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Power to the Voters

Progressive prosecutors have delivered tangible and rapid wins to a grassroots movement seeking to end mass incarceration.

Larry Krasner

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The Problem Solvers

Prosecution can be redefined to focus on effective problem-solving through policies and initiatives that make us a safer, healthier community.

Mary Moriarty

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Not a Fix-All

Electing progressive prosecutors is but one tool in a multifaceted, collaborative approach to ending mass incarceration.

David Ayala

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The Best Prospect

Not all so-called progressive prosecutors are doing enough to dismantle mass incarceration. But they’re better than the alternative.

Angela J. Davis

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Final Response

All of the Above

Prosecutors alone won’t end mass incarceration. But their interventions can mean the world to people staring down the many harms of criminalization.

Premal Dharia

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