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Cash for Convictions?

Undoubtedly, many public servants – e.g., Assistant District Attorneys – are underpaid and often indebted from financing their educations through student loans.

But does offering cash incentives for convictions sound like a good idea? Apparently so, according to a Colorado District Attorney. Last week, the Denver Post reported that Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers sponsored a program that would give cash awards to prosecutors who participated in at least five trials a year while maintaining a conviction rate of at least 70 percent.  To say that such a program is misguided is an understatement – the goal of the criminal justice system is to seek justice for justice’s sake, not for the sake of a bonus. In other words, prosecutors’ decisions on how to handle their cases should be completely uninfluenced by any financial incentive.

Participating in the criminal justice system – as a defense attorney, prosecutor or judge – is a grave responsibility that should not have to be incentivized through contests.