Prosecutorial discretion is the topic at an upcoming ASU Morrison Institute event (image: screen shot from the opening sequence of the "order" portion of Law & Order)

Prosecutorial discretion is the topic at an upcoming ASU Morrison Institute event (image: screen shot from the opening sequence of the “order” portion of Law & Order)

So when it rains, it pours.

Later this week, while I attend a conference examining criminal justice, a panel discussion exploring prosecutorial discretion will be held here in Arizona.

Sheesh.

Well, just because I cannot attend the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy event, doesn’t mean you can’t. It will be held this Thursday, Feb. 25, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Here is a description by the organizers:

ASU Morrison Institute logoOver the last 30 years there has been a power shift in Arizona’s criminal justice system, with many sentencing outcomes no longer determined by judges and parole boards but now by prosecutors. Mandatory minimum sentencing, truth-in-sentencing, and three-strikes maximum punishments have greatly increased prison populations in Arizona and elsewhere, taking greater shares of state budgets.

Part of an ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy series on criminal sentencing reform, The Full Impact of Prosecutorial Discretion will focus on the pros and cons of this shift through this compelling dialogue.

Panelists:

  • Honorable Pamela Gates, Superior Court Judge
  • Honorable Ronald Reinstein, Retired Superior Court Judge
  • Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney
  • Erik Luna, ASU Law Professor

Also: Arizona Sen. Martin Quezada and Arizona Sen. Adam Driggs will engage in discussion about their perspectives on Arizona’s incarceration rates, the role of “discretion,” and whether there is political will in the Legislature for criminal sentencing reform by changing the judicial code or other action.

The event will be held at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Room 128 (ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus, 555 N. Central Ave.)

Details and free registration are here.

The last word in the many chapters regarding the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio have clearly not been written. Cue the ASU Journalism School.

The last word in the many chapters regarding the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio have clearly not been written. Cue the ASU Journalism School.

Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey (photo: Patrick Breen/Ariz. Republic)

Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey (photo: Patrick Breen/Ariz. Republic)

For those friends around the country who gaze in amazement at the State of Arizona (not always for wonderful reasons), an announcement yesterday must have had them lighting up the twitterverse.

The story out of ASU’s journalism school is that a new endowed professorship, entirely focused on border issues, will be funded with a $2 million gift drawn from a legal settlement awarded following a lawsuit over policing practices at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, led by Joe Arpaio.

The donors are none other than Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, longtime journalists and publishers who were arrested by the office as they worked on stories related to it.

I leave you to muse on alternate lyrics for “I fought the law …

I don’t know if the lobbying has begun for an excellent borders prof, but I certainly hope they consider journalist Terry Greene Sterling. You can read more about her and her work here.

The ASU press release opens:

“Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, longtime owners of the national chain of Village Voice alternative weeklies, will use proceeds from a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to establish a Chair in Borderlands Issues at the WalterCronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.”

Terry Greene Sterling

Terry Greene Sterling

“The $2 million gift will support an endowed chair who will lead a new program at the Cronkite School in which students will cover immigration and border issues in the U.S. and Mexico in both Spanish and English. The Lacey-Larkin Chair will be the only endowed chair in the country focused exclusively on Latino and borderlands coverage.”

“The Chair will direct advanced student journalists in a professional immersion program in which they will report, write and produce cutting-edge stories that will be distributed in English and Spanish to professional media outlets and will be prominently featured on the Cronkite News website and Arizona PBS newscasts. Additionally, the Lacey-Larkin Chair will comment on and write about border and immigration reporting nationally, promoting public scrutiny and serving as a national voice on coverage of issues affecting the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.”

Illegal, by Terry Greene Sterling

Illegal, by Terry Greene Sterling

“The new Chair will be the cornerstone of a Cronkite specialization that will include three full-time professors. The Lacey-Larkin Chair and a second, university-funded, professor to be added next year will join Cronkite Professor Rick Rodriguez, former editor of the Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors, as Southwest Borderlands Professors.”

“Lacey and Larkin are drawing on proceeds from a $3.75 million settlement from Maricopa County in a widely publicized case that tested First Amendment rights as well as Arpaio’s policing practices. They said their gift to ASU grew out of their outrage at the way Mexican immigrants, in particular, have been treated by the sheriff’s office.”

Want more? (Sure, you do.) Read the Arizona Republic article here.