San Francisco DA’s office launches study to prevent racial, ethnic bias in prosecutions | Global News
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San Francisco DA’s office launches study to prevent racial, ethnic bias in prosecutions

/ 06:29 AM May 06, 2014

• Joint study aims to prevent racial and ethnic discrimination in criminal prosecution

• Case outcomes for defendants and victims to be analyzed

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SAN FRANCISCO, California – San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office has partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to closely study the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to prevent racial and ethnic bias in the process.

Prosecutors have the power to make critical decisions throughout the lifecycle of a criminal justice case, from charging and bail recommendations to plea bargaining and sentencing.

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To ensure the integrity of the justice system, outcomes must not disproportionately affect members of certain racial and ethnic groups—and that any disparities be identified so solutions can be developed.

During the next year, the SFDA will provide PRJ researchers access to statistical data–on aggregate case outcomes for defendants and victims–that will lead to a set of findings and recommendations along a continuum of prosecutorial decision points in the criminal justice process.

The collaboration includes analysis this data and possibly the development of routine policies and practices that promote fairness.

Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ), through research and evidence-based practice, will help the DA’s office to monitor the exercise of discretion among its prosecutors, to “encourage fairness, promote efficiency and enhance the integrity of the prosecutorial role.”

“We must take the steps necessary to modernize our justice system so that it is more thoughtful and efficient as it relates to people,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Our work with Vera will help us in taking that step by working to eliminate biases in the system.”

“Vera is proud to work with a new generation of prosecutorial leadership across the nation, and we believe that the results of our work with DA Gascón’s office will lead to a fairer, more equitable justice system for all San Franciscans,” said PRJ Director Whitney Tymas.

To date, PRJ has partnered successfully with prosecutors’ offices in Milwaukee, Charlotte, San Diego, and New York City. PRJ began working with Nebraska’s Lincoln County Attorney’s Office last month.

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TAGS: civil rights, criminal justice, Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ), San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, Vera Institute of Justice (Vera)
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