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Convictability and Discordant Locales: Reproducing Race, Class, and Gender Ideologies in Prosecutorial Decisionmaking

Lisa Frohmann
Law & Society Review
Vol. 31, No. 3 (1997), pp. 531-556
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3054045
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3054045
Page Count: 26
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Convictability and Discordant Locales: Reproducing Race, Class, and Gender Ideologies in Prosecutorial Decisionmaking
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Abstract

Using ethnographic data, I examine prosecutors' discourse on case convictability (the likelihood of a guilty verdict at trial) in sexual assault cases. The analysis shows how prosecutors construct discordant locales through their categorization of victims, defendants, jurors, and their communities and the location of crime incidents. It demonstrates how prosecutors use discordant locales to justify case rejection. By ascribing stereotypical characteristics of a neighborhood to victims, defendants, and jurors, prosecutors construct distinct groups with different cultures who live in geographically separate spaces and have different schemes through which they interpret the everyday world. To construct discordant locale categorizations, prosecutors employ race, class, and gender imagery. Through this imagery they construct multiple normative standards of moral character of persons and of places. I argue that through the categorizations of place as discordant locales, prosecutors inadvertently reproduce race, class, and gender ideologies in legal decisionmaking. I conclude with policy suggestions for expanding and equalizing citizens' access to justice.

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