Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment


Kay Levine


In this piece, I explore the value of consistency in a prosecutor’s office that is committed to racial justice, fiscal responsibility, and strategies to reduce the size of the carceral state. I argue that consistency of process, rather than consistency of outcome, is the principal value that leadership ought to embrace in furtherance of its reformist goals. In prioritizing consistency of process, the office would design a “prosecutorial calculus” to guide line prosecutors’ case management decisions (i.e., it would identify the factors that should influence whether and what to file, how to handle pre-trial release, and what to offer as a plea deal). The calculus would also shape the formation and maintenance of relationships with the bar and with law enforcement. All prosecutors within a given office should follow the calculus, irrespective of team or unit assignment. Prosecutors in other offices, however, will fall outside of its reach due to strong localist headwinds and entrenched political realities. In emphasizing consistency of process, I suggest that prosecutors ought to foreground the meaningful provision of procedural justice in their working lives.