Foxx could have distanced herself from this blunder given that her own blunder — emailing and texting with people close to Smollett early in the investigation — had prompted her to step away from the case and leave it to underlings. But she grabbed ownership of it Wednesday, giving interviews in which she expressed pride and confidence in the way her office had handled the case.

And although she can point with some pride to the diversionary programs that have kept small-time offenders out of jail and offered them fresh starts and clean states, her betrayal of the public’s understandable expectations of justice in the Smollett case will taint that entire initiative. Both the National District Attorneys Association and the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association have released statements this week sharply critical of Foxx.

She will be defending this deeply disappointing outcome from now until at least March 17, 2020. That’s the date of the primary election in which she is now certain to face a Democratic challenger for the office whose ideals she has disgraced.