Prosecution and Racial Justice Program
Black and Latino people are overrepresented in the U.S. criminal justice system. While racial disparity in case outcomes is often attributed to law enforcement practices or judicial decision making, the role of prosecutors is overlooked. In fact, prosecutors have wide discretionary power in case processing decisions—from initial screening, charging, bail, and pretrial recommendations, to diversion, plea bargaining, and sentencing.
Until now, prosecutors have lacked ready access to analytical tools that would help them see the overall impacts of their decisions, and whether their decision-making power affects racially disparate case outcomes. Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) published this guide to aid prosecutors seeking to conduct research into their offices’ work and address any problems contributing to racial disparity the research uncovers. The guide is based on PRJ’s nine years of experience as research partner with a number of district attorneys around the country.
Giving prosecutors a coherent, evidence based picture of their offices’ performance in the area of racial fairness is the essential first step toward achieving more equitable results.
PRJ researchers partnered with several district attorneys’ offices and used statistical methods to study whether, all things being equal (including a defendant’s prior record or seriousness of the charged offense), race is affecting case outcomes.
Despite efforts to be fair and equitable, prosecutors may unintentionally contribute to the overrepresentation of minorities in the nation’s courtrooms, prisons, and jails.
This guide helps equip prosecutors with the research tools necessary to launch racial-impact studies similar to those PRJ has overseen, and to find innovative solutions to racial disparity in the criminal justice system.
While people with disabilities make up nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population, they remain largely invisible to society at large, and victim response systems in particular. And despite growing public awareness of violent victimization, it excludes the victimization of people with disabilities, who are at particular risk of serious violent crime, i...
Series: Gender and Justice in America
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Vera Institute Eleventh Annual Gala
On Thursday, April 20, 2017, justice reform leaders and supporters joined the Vera Institute of Justice for Vera’s 11th Annual Gala, Reimagine Justice. Honorees discussed approaches to criminal justice reform and the future of the movement in a very different federal climate. Samuel David Flores Murillo, a client of Vera’s recently expanded New Yo...