John Oliver Examines Prosecutors’ Role in the Criminal Justice System

"Last Week Tonight" looks at the 2,500 prosecutors who wield immense power.

john oliver
John Oliver (YouTube)

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took aim at the criminal justice system. But the British host argued that we usually talk about policing, public defenders, prisons and judges, but rarely examine the 2,500 prosecutors who work in the system and wield immense power.

Prosecutors decide whether a person gets charged and what charges he or she will face.

“The vast majority of the time your fate is not decided by a judge or jury,” Oliver said. “Nearly 95 percent of the cases that prosecutors decide to prosecute end up with the defendant pleading guilty.”

Oliver said that “prosecutors will decide” has become a three-word phrase heard so often that you don’t even think about what it means anymore, like “some restrictions apply” or “Tyler Perry presents.”

He goes on to say, “Like the Cheesecake Factory, prosecutors have the ability to ruin lives in a second,” Oliver continued, encouraging people to find out more about their local D.A.s. “If we do not decide ourselves what we want our criminal justice system to look like — prosecutors will decide.”

Watch the full clip below.

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