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by Peter Moskos

April 19, 2008

It's all about the numbers

There's a quota system in place for attorneys working in the office of U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien in Los Angeles.

As reported in an article in the L.A. Times , O'Brien says: "This office does not and never will have quotas for its criminal prosecutors.... To suggest that any attorney in this office must charge a certain number of defendants each year or face discipline is simply not true."

Too bad he's lying. Or at least that's what attorneys working for him say.

The problem I have is the idea that our court system should be "efficient." A factory should be efficient. A bicycle racer should be efficient. Justice is not supposed to efficient. It's supposed to be fair. In the real world, prosecutorial "efficiency" is just another word for plea-bargain. And a plea-bargain is not justice.

In this case, the motivation seems to be that more prosecuted cases equals more federal funding. The Prison-Industrial Complex in action.

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