Journal Sentinel, "Chisholm touts racial disparity improvements at Capitol Hill briefing"

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Robin Campbell
(212) 376-3172
rcampbell@vera.org

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Mar 10 2010

Milwaukee's district attorney, John Chilholm, recently spoke a congressional hearing about the results of the partnership between his office and Vera's Prosecution and Racial Justice Program, which looks at possible racial or ethnic bias in district attorney office staff aggregate decision making and helps them respond appropriately when it is found. When Vera found that the office charged 73 percent of black defendants with drug paraphernalia possession but only 59 percent of white defendants, "Chisholm told his staff to reconsider filing the paraphernalia charge every time they could, and instead consider folks with crack pipes as addicts who might benefit from referral to drug treatment programs instead. If assistants still feel they needed to charge possession of paraphernalia, they now need to get a supervisor's OK."

With these new guidelines in place, the disparity disappeared.