Mary CrowleyVice President for Communications & Public Affairs
Racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system are often seen as the result of law enforcement practices and/or judicial decision making. The role of prosecutors, however, is regularly overlooked. Prosecutors have wide discretion when it comes to initial screening, charging, bail, and pretrial detention recommendations, as well as diversion, plea bargaining, and sentencing. To understand the impact of this discretionary power, Vera partnered with the District Attorney of New York (DANY) to study disparities in criminal case outcomes in Manhattan. The two-year, National Institute of Justice-funded study analyzed more than 200,000 cases, focusing on the role of prosecutors during several points of a criminal case—case acceptance for prosecution, dismissals, pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and sentencing recommendations—and whether prosecutorial discretion contributes to racially and ethnically disparate outcomes.
While the best predictors of case outcomes were factors directly pertaining to the legal aspects of a case—including the seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s prior record, and the offense type—race nonetheless remained a factor, the study found.
The study found that DANY prosecutes nearly all cases brought by the police, with no noticeable racial or ethnic differences at case screening.
For decisions made beyond case screening, disparities varied by discretionary point and offense category.
Black and Latino defendants were more likely than similarly situated whites to be detained at arraignment, to receive a custodial sentence offer as a result of the plea bargaining process, and to be incarcerated.
When clients have needs that cannot be met on their own, TGP offers monthly visits and staff support, providing oversight and another set of eyes and ears for each client to help prevent the issues outlined by CNN’s investigation. CNN found that elder abuse in nursing homes is far more widespread that anyone would imagine. Predators find elderly pa...
The Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH) program educates non-detained immigrants in removal (deportation) proceedings about the court process. The goal of ICH is to help individuals make informed decisions about their legal cases and, in doing so, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration court proceedings. Vera works with five nonprofit...
Vera @ Chicago Ideas - Part II
The Vera Institute of Justice teamed up with Chicago Ideas to reenvision the American prison system, and imagine a society in which prisons serve as rehabilitation facilities for communities and citizens, rather than as crippling institutions. The conversation will combined performance, first-person testimony, and compelling dialogue that all looke...