In this rejoinder we provide notes to consider when reviewing our report on prosecutor caseloads.
We concur with justice reformers who fear the ability of prosecutors to reverse the gains of the current decarceration movement, but the equivocal nature of this research demands that the nature and extent of prosecutor caseloads is in dire need of further inquiry. We also agree with Gershowitz and Killinger (2011) that prosecutors in large jurisdictions often have large caseloads, that there is harm caused by excessive caseloads, and that the best solution is to provide more resources to both the prosecutor and the public defender.
There is a relationship between prosecutor staffing, budgets and caseloads but there has been no evidence that more prosecutors equates to more disparities and unnecessary incarceration. We argue that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor to make the case for their staffing needs and that this determination be based on several factors, not any one, by itself. This burden must be situated within the context of equity and decarceration. Understanding why there has yet to be an established standard for prosecutorial caseloads may be more a matter of politics and tradition than it is a function of science.
Our Research Stands on the Shoulders of Giants: Supporting Research The State Never Rests: How Excessive Prosecutorial Caseloads Harm Criminal Defendants - Northwestern University Law Review Whither the Prosecutor? Prosecutor and County Effects on Guilty Plea Outcomes in Wisconsin - Justice Quarterly A Research Note On Caseloads, Plea Bargaining and The Operation Of The Criminal Justice System - Justice System Quarterly Prosecutors should create innovation offices to improve justice and public safety - ABA Journal Chicago’s “Staggering” Prosecutor Caseload: 200 Felony Cases Per Attorney - The Crime Report Cook County to stop prosecuting some traffic offenses because it lacks resources - Chicago Tribune