In the past few years, a new breed of district attorney in places like Chicago, Orlando and St. Louis have committed to making the American criminal justice system less punitive and more humane, Jessica Pishko writes for Slate. In many other locales, elected prosecutors have sensed the change in tides and adapted their message even as they’ve refused to scrap their outdated methods. These district attorneys talk about reform and perhaps make incremental changes, but they vehemently resist anything resembling a true overhaul of a broken system.
Pishko cites Hillar Moore III, the district attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, La., whose “vaguely progressive rhetoric helps him win elections and brings him national attention…Moore is one of a long line of prosecutors who came into office talking about changing the system but who quickly resorted to tough-on-crime policies to consolidate their power and prey upon the fears of the public.” She writes that Moore is among a group of “false prophet prosecutors” that included Anita Alvarez in Chicago, Seth Williams in Philadelphia and Tim McGinty in Cleveland. “All of these prosecutors did what Moore is currently doing: spouting off kinder, gentler rhetoric while doling out harsher and harsher punishments,” Pishko writes. “If Hillar Moore wants to keep his job when election time comes three years from now, he needs to show Louisiana he can do more than just say the right thing.”