The Vera Institute of Justice has released an NIJ-funded study involving researchers who partnered with the District Attorney of New York County (DANY) to examine racial and ethnic disparities in criminal case outcomes in New York County. The two-year study focused 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.Source: Vera Institute of Justice via National Institute of Justice
The report found that the best predictors of case outcomes were factors that directly pertained to legal aspects of a case – including the seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s prior record, and the offense type, but race remained a factor in case outcomes. DANY prosecutes nearly all cases with no racial or ethnic difference at case screening, but for subsequent decisions, racially and ethnic disparities varied by prosecutor decision point and offense category. Compared to white defendants, black and Latino defendants were more likely to be detained, to receive a custodial plea offer, and to be incarcerated. They were also more likely to benefit from case dismissal. Asian defendants had the most favorable outcomes across all discretionary points.
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