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June 26, 2012

New Vera Institute of Justice publication on race, ethnicity and prosecutorial decision-making

Via an e-mail this morning, I received news of this notable new publication from the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program of the Vera Institute of Justice which "surveys the literature on the relationship of race and ethnicity to prosecutorial decision making." Here is more about this new publication from the e-mail I received:

Do Race and Ethnicity Matter in Prosecution? — a review of 34 empirical studies on the relationship of race and ethnicity to prosecutorial decision making published between 1990 and 2011 in peer-reviewed journals — analyzes research that previously has been accessible primarily to scholars.  The PRJ review, written for a broad audience, is intended to encourage additional research on this critical subject.

“No other actor in the criminal justice system drives case outcomes as profoundly as the prosecutor,” PRJ director Whitney Tymas writes in her introductory note.  “Nevertheless, empirical research analyzing racial impacts of prosecutors’ routine choices on the thousands of defendants and victims with whom they interact daily has been scarce.”

Among the review’s key findings: Defendants’ and victims’ race appear to affect prosecutorial decisions.

  • Most of the 34 studies reviewed found influences on case outcomes, even when other legal and extra-legal factors are taken into account.
  • The effect of race and ethnicity on prosecutorial decision making is inconsistent.
  • As compared to whites, it is not always blacks or Latinos and Latinas who receive more punitive treatment.

June 26, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB