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Prosecutors, Criminal justice system, Problem-oriented approach, Statutory rape, Teenage pregnancy, Social work


This Article proceeds as follows. Part I introduces the Statutory Rape Vertical Prosecution Program that took shape in California in the mid-1990s. In addition to explaining how this program emerged and its central features, I highlight the aspects of the SRVPP that distinguish California statutory rape prosecutors from the traditional image of the local prosecutor in the United States. Part II offers some background on the new prosecution and the problem-oriented approach to criminal justice, explaining how this model differs from the traditional crime-based or case-based method of criminal justice work. In Part III, I use empirical data derived from surveys and interviews with prosecutors to explore more fully the ways in which the new prosecution's problem-oriented model has taken hold in the SRVPP units across California, and I compare the successes of this approach to those described in the literature about problem-oriented policing. I address prosecutorial resistance to the new prosecution in Part IV. In Part V, I discuss the implications of these problems for prosecutors and the gendered nature of these effects. I then speculate as to why these issues have proved to be more salient in the prosecution context than in the police arena and suggest ways in which the institution of prosecution might be reformed to accommodate the new prosecution's problem-solving, crime reduction strategies. In Part VI, I examine the implications of the new prosecution's wide-ranging problem-oriented approach for victims and defendants, as prosecutors' ideas about responsibility, commitment, and appropriate relationships are given strength through the new social worker role. I lastly consider the impact of the new prosecution on society generally, given the symbolic and real-world consequences of reconstructing old social problems as new issues for the criminal justice system to solve.

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Wake Forest Law Review


© 2005 Wake Forest Law Review.