Criminal justice prosecutors
Assignment Ch. 7
Book: Belenko, S., & Spohn, C. (2014). Drugs, crime, and justice. Sage Publications.
In Chapter 7, you learned about issues surrounding prosecutorial decisions making and how that affects drug crime cases. One of the best perspectives applied to understanding prosecutorial decision making is through Focal Concerns Perspective. For this assignment, you will need to create a “thought map” or “mind map” that visually explains how Focal Concerns influences prosecutorial decision making. A general example of the format is provided at the end of this assignment.
Use the information provided in Chapter 7 to outline all of the potential considerations that prosecutors keep in mind during their decision making process. Once your map is complete, consider how such discretion can lead to heterogeneity in the outcomes of similar cases. Use your map to decide on the following case scenario. In an approximately 1 page response, explain whether and why you would give the defendant charge 1, 2, or 3, and if you would add charge 4 or not.
o Draw a “thought map” of all of the focal concerns considerations of prosecutors as they make decisions about cases.
o Write a 1 page response to the sentencing scenario.
Prosecutorial Decision Making: You’re the Prosecutor
Legal: The defendant, Mr. X, was arrested in Manhattan for possession of five grams of crack cocaine, has one prior state conviction for a small amount of heroin; his co-defendant, Mr. Y, kept a gun in the apartment where the two were arrested. The government alleges that Mr. W was a courier for Mr. Y and that Mr. Y sells about fifty grams of crack per week. The two defendants are being prosecuted in a U.S. District Court.
Extralegal: Mr. X is a 25 year old Hispanic male, unemployed aside from his illegal activities but holds an Associate’s degree. Mr. X has 3 daughters with whom he has little contact and has been charged with failure to pay child support to their mothers. During Mr. X’s pretrial detention, he has been cooperative with officers and mostly stays to himself.
You are the prosecutor. Chose one of the first 3 charges to bring against Mr. X. Also, decide whether or not to charge Mr. X with the 4th charge. Apply Focal Concerns Theory in your decision making process.
1. Mr. X is charged under a subsection of the statute that is silent as to the quantity of drugs.
a. Maximum penalty would be 20 years in prison; no mandatory minimum penalty. Judge could depart downward from guideline minimum and sentence could reasonable range from 2 to 20 years
2. Mr. X is charged under a different subsection of the statute and the charging language specifies that Mr. X possessed with intent to deliver 5 grams or more of cocaine base
a. Maximum penalty would be 40 years in prison; conviction triggers a 5 year mandatory minimum penalty
3. Mr. X is charged under another subsection of the statute and charging language specifies that Mr. X, who was engaged in drug trafficking over an extended period of time, possessed 50 grams or more of crack cocaine
a. Maximum penalty would be life in prison; conviction triggers a 10 year mandatory minimum penalty
4. In addition to the trafficking in narcotics charge, Mr. X is charged with use of a gun in a narcotics offence
a. A 5 year mandatory minimum sentence served consecutive to the other sentence