10 years post-Ferguson, advocates seek prosecutor accountability

A coalition of racial justice advocacy groups in St. Louis has quietly issued the first in a series of “Prosecutor Watch” reports on the role and powers of the prosecutor and its function in the local criminal legal system. Prosecutors, the coalition contends, have staggering authority to enact violence on communities. The groups say prosecutors’ offices are structured to prize convictions over truth, and in their pursuit of convictions, “prosecutors regularly abuse their power.”

The introductory report gleans insights from more than three years of collective focus by the Prosecutor Organizing Table, which is made up of local decarceration leaders who spend the bulk of their working lives trying to free Black and poor people from the clutches of the carceral state: Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders, Forward through Ferguson, Freedom Community Center, MacArthur Justice Center, and Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Advocates told Prism there’s been little prosecutorial fervor to free wrongfully convicted St. Louisans, even innocence cases. Children, however, continue to be charged as adults, and poor people are still landing in jail for 200 days or more because they can’t afford cash bail. This human misery has been happening under the watch of “progressive prosecutors” carried to office with a reform mandate on the national wave after the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. 

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