A Prosecutor’s Ethical Duty to Support Sentencing Reform

Post Date: September 25, 2013

Professor R. Michael Cassidy

Professor R. Michael Cassidy

Professor R. Michael Cassidy of Boston College Law School has published a paper that is a call to action to the nation’s prosecutors, urging them to support sentencing reform because it is their ethical duty as “ministers of justice.”   Cassidy, himself a long time prosecutor before becoming a professor of law, argues that “prosecutors have a duty to go beyond seeking appropriate conviction and punishment in individual cases, and to think about the delivery of criminal justice on a systemic level ― promoting criminal justice policies that further broader societal ends.”  

Cassidy writes that a prosecutor’s role in the administration of justice requires him or her to join the effort to “repeal mandatory minimum sentencing provisions for most drug and nonviolent offenses. Not only are mandatory sentences in most instances unduly harsh, coercive, and inefficacious, but they allow for an arbitrary and discriminatory application that is essentially unreviewable by courts.”

 It’s a fascinating paper that gives us a glimpse of how the justice system might work if mandatory minimum sentencing laws were reformed.  Read more.