Contact: Teri Stoddard
Prosecutor Misconduct is Widespread, Extends to Highest Levels, CPI Report Reveals
WASHINGTON / September 18, 2013 – A report released today concludes prosecutor misconduct is widespread and ingrained in our nation’s criminal justice system. Only rarely does prosecutor misconduct result in the imposition of sanctions. The report, issued by the non-partisan Center for Prosecutor Integrity, calls for fundamental reform of the oversight policies for the nation’s 30,000 prosecutors.
And according to a recent Center for Prosecutor Integrity survey, 43% of persons nationwide believe prosecutorial misconduct is widespread.
Prosecutor misconduct takes many forms, including charging a suspect with more crimes than warranted, concealing evidence, coercing witnesses, and making misleading statements to the jury.
Unethical prosecutors know that judges seldom report the misconduct to state bar associations, and even when they do, sanctions are imposed in only 1-2% of cases, the report reveals.
To date, over 1,200 persons have been proven to have been wrongfully convicted. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 43% of wrongful convictions arise from misconduct by prosecutors and other government officials.
Prosecutor misconduct reaches into the U.S. Department of Justice, as well. The report cites the recent case of internet activist Aaron Swartz who was charged on 13 counts, carrying a possible prison sentence of 35 years. Swartz’ tragic suicide triggered allegations of prosecutorial overreach by the DOJ.
“The same prosecutors who are charged with enforcing our nation’s laws are not holding themselves to basic standards of honesty and fairness,” notes CPI spokesperson Sheryl Hutter. “And when wrongfully convicted persons later seek a remedy, our legal system responds with complacency and disdain.”
The report, An Epidemic of Prosecutor Misconduct, is available here: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/EpidemicofProsecutorMisconduct.pdf .
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a project of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions.