, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 567-573
Date: 07 Nov 2012

Opening the black box: Review of prosecution complex

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What if we opened the black box? Prosecutorial discretion has been likened to a black box—a place where no light enters and where none have any reason to look.

See Miller and Wright [1].

Indeed, prosecutorial discretion is assumed to be broad and unreviewable, such that any decisions made are kept in the dark, largely without regard to how they were reached. Perhaps, however, prosecutorial discretion can also be like the black box on a jet, to be opened and examined after a terrible mishap to shed light on what system failures might have caused a crash. Professor Daniel Medwed does just that, having written a compelling account in his new book “Prosecution Complex,” of what it means for prosecutors to do justice by avoiding wrongful convictions [2].

As prosecutors have become a more and more a central part of our criminal justice system—perhaps the most powerful actors in our vast criminal justice machinery—opening the black box to examine internal workings and procedures bec ...