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The Associated Press reports that a recent public opinion survey, commissioned by the non-profit Center for Prosecutor Integrity, reveals that 71% of Americans believe that “most cases of prosecutorial misconduct are hidden from the public” and 73% believe that “prosecutors who commit misconduct are almost never punished.”

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity says it organized the survey to better understand “concerns about wrongful convictions, loss of the presumption of innocence, and equal treatment under the law” brought about through increased media coverage of these issues. The survey was conducted between June 3-5 by placing telephone calls to 9,876 people. An average of 993 persons responded to each question.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Over two-fifths (42.8%) of the respondents say prosecutor misconduct is widespread
  • Over seven in 10 (71.8%) believe new laws are needed to curb prosecutor misconduct
  • Two-thirds (66.8%) think the presumption of innocence is becoming lost in our nation’s legal system
  • Three-quarters (74.8%) worry our legal system often does not follow the rule of ‘equal treatment under the law’

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity spokesman Phillip Holman told the Associated Press: “Lawmakers must grapple with the fact that over-criminalization and lack of prosecutor accountability have weakened the very legitimacy of our legal system in the eyes of many.”

More information about the results of the survey and methodology used is available here.

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