Prosecutors are just part of a system

Daniel Green and Daniel Green

Prosecutors should not always be punished for sending the wrong person to jail.

Last month activist Aaron Swartz killed himself, one reason given were the charges he faced that could have sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

Since then, many have called for action against US attorney Carmen Ortiz and her office claiming they went too far in their prosecution of Swartz.

While it is unfortunate that Swartz killed himself blame should not be placed solely at the feet of the prosecutor.

We have to remember that prosecutors are a part of the justice system, along with defense attorneys, judges, shouldn’t and the police.

They work as a system, all moving a case along.

When a prosecutor receives a case they have to trust that the police have done their jobs and found the right person as well as the evidence to convict them.

While the system should always be vigilant against accusing the wrong person, prosecutors shouldn’t have to worry about the consequences of every case.

Why would anyone take the job if they had to worry that any case could land them in jail or end their career?

If we were to punish every prosecutor who made a mistake, others would be afraid to go to trial.

When presented with a case that is not as solid as others they may decide to drop charges rather than take the chance of sending this person to jail.

Criminals who are actually guilty could get away due to the fact that the case wasn’t strong enough for a prosecutor to risk their career.

If a prosecutor follows proper procedure they should not be held accountable even if the wrong person ends up in prison.

Penalties should be reserved for prosecutors who willingly withhold evidence, manipulate witnesses, or find some other way to deny the accused their fair trial.

Rather than blame the prosecutors the focus should be on police finding the right person.

That way by the time the case lands on the prosecutor’s desk they should be confident that the right person is on trial.

Rather then point fingers we have to work harder to make the justice system more effective at protecting the innocent while punishing the guilty.