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By Besiki Kutateladze, associate research director, Prosecution and Racial Justice Program
In January 2011, Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) began a partnership with the New York County District Attorney’s office (DANY). The 18-month project, funded by the National Institute of Justice, examines the impact of defendants’ and victims’ race on prosecutorial decision making for different offense categories at various discretion points, including initial screening, dismissal, diversion, and plea offers. In addition to examining the impact of race on case outcomes, the project aims at demonstrating how a researcher-practitioner partnership can expand the value of a research project and lead to more effective policy recommendations for prosecutors’ offices.
Vera has placed two researchers in the DANY office; they are examining existing administrative data sources to build a dataset for the project. In addition to collecting administrative data, Vera’s researchers will be interviewing prosecutors and collecting additional data from a sample of 3,000 case files.