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White people and people of color are sometimes prosecuted differently by Denver attorneys – Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado 2021-04-07 19:58:27 –

Whites and people of color may be prosecuted differently by city lawyers, according to a report from the University of Denver. However, at a press conference that released the report’s findings on Wednesday, district attorney Beth McCann told her office that “there is no problem with racism, prejudice, or implicit prejudice.” ..

“I think what this study did shows that in some limited areas that need further investigation, there are inconsistencies and people of different races and ethnicities have different consequences.” Said McCann. “But there was no overall sign that it was based on racial prejudice.”

The study, commissioned by the District Attorneys Office, sought to determine whether people of different races and ethnicities were treated differently by prosecutors between the summers of 2017 and the summer of 2018. Researchers have discovered that they may or may not be present.

According to the investigation, black defendants were more likely than Hispanic and white defendants to dismiss the proceedings for serious charges. We also found that whites are sometimes more likely to receive more generous treatment. According to the report, plea bargaining (an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a more generous accusation or judgment) was entirely equivalent.

Researchers did not conclude that DA’s offices are free of racist, prejudiced, or implicit prejudice-prone problems. Because I didn’t try to prove them in any way. The paper’s editor, Dr. Elysia Clements, said the study aimed to improve fairness within DA’s office, ideally the criminal justice system. She said this was just the beginning of a data-driven improvement.

“This is intended to first review Denver DA data and highlight areas of opportunity for improvement and further discussion and conversation,” said Clements. “It is not intended to be a stop point.”

This treatise was written by Dr. Stacey J. Bosick of Sonoma State University through the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at DU, which is affiliated with the government to solve problems through research. According to Clements, it was funded by a laboratory that supported McCann for making the data available.

Public defenders disputed the findings.

The investigation did not consider who the prosecutor decided to prosecute. Joyce Akahenda, a public defender who has worked in Denver courts for 15 years, said it would be an important data point for understanding the role of race and ethnicity in prosecution.

“Especially if you’re constantly cracking down on drug issues and over-control of certain communities (such as traffic outages), your criminal record will get worse,” said Akhahenda. “Many defendants dismiss their proceedings because they should not have been stopped, searched, or prosecuted in the first place.”

Prosecutors are currently collecting racial and ethnic data on the indicted, but not at the time of the investigation, officials at DA’s office said.

Researchers have begun investigating all 6,839 felony cases accepted by DA’s office during the summer of 2017-2018. However, researchers ruled out 43% of those cases, especially those in which serious drug royalties were the most serious allegations. , For pandemic related issues.

In that limited dataset, black defendants were 31 percent more likely than white and Hispanic defendants to have drug-related non-dismissal cases.

Hispanics could dismiss their proceedings as well as whites.

The discovery is problematic for Nicole Duncan, a public defender working in a court in Denver. Duncan told Denbelite that DA’s office has the authority to charge people. They are usually the people of color who have the most contact with the police. She said some of her clients would experience a court system move due to a frivolous accusation dismissed at the last minute.

“But that person’s life changed completely at that point,” Duncan said. “You shouldn’t tap your back for rejecting something that shouldn’t have been charged in the first place.”

People who spin through the doors of the city courthouse in Denver usually don’t have a home and are disproportionately black.

Investigations show that white defendants are twice as likely to postpone proceedings as colored defendants, which can lead to complete dismissals or reduced serious charges. Black and Hispanic defendants, on the other hand, were more likely to enter their guilty or acquittal charges and bring their proceedings to trial.

“This finding means that injustice exists, and it is very important to look more closely at the postponed decision process and what leads to those decisions and how to promote impartiality,” Clements said in an email. I mentioned in.

McCann advertised the discovery that race and ethnicity did not affect the quality of judicial transactions. She said it was how the “majority” of the case ended.

Plea bargaining is an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a more generous accusation or judgment. Researchers found that black, Hispanic, and white defendants were equally likely to reduce their most serious charges or turn felony into misdemeanor by pleading guilty.

“The study found no inconsistencies in how we treat people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and races. This is the majority of the cases we deal with,” McCann said.

However, public defender Ahahenda called McCann’s thinking “dishonest.” She said the prosecutor’s concessions were for judicial transactions across races and ethnic groups, regardless of whether someone was assigned to half-hearted homes or probation, or whether prisons or prison decisions were capped. He said it was a true barometer of fairness.

“And if you haven’t seen it, you haven’t really checked if the judicial transaction is fair,” she said.

Whites were sent to drug courts twice as likely as colored people who are more likely to be tried in traditional courts and elsewhere. Traditional courts can end up in prison time or probation, but drug courts sought alternatives.

The Denver drug court was based on rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment (the court no longer exists). Probation is more punitive, but it has provided room for recurrence, said La Cunya Baker, a lawyer on behalf of those who cannot afford a lawyer.

“The drug court takes into account the notion that the path to recovery involves recurrence, so if a substance test is positive once, twice, or even 10 or 20 times, people We see that it is less likely to be canceled, “says Baker. .. “And they expect people to come back. They explain it.”

Studies show that people who are “considered likely to benefit from treatment” and “have no extensive criminal history” are likely to be sent to drug courts.

Akahenda said the practice was inherently detrimental to people of color, as they are likely to have a criminal record in the first place.

The researchers also interviewed 20 District Attorneys in Denver. Most were worried about systematic racism in the criminal justice system, but were uncertain if their office could play a role in correcting it.

79% of Denver’s DA is white.

According to the survey, prosecutors generally said they could not correct the socio-economic disparities that caused people to reach their offices. They have mixed feelings about their role in solving the problems posed by the police because they have to balance fairness with the reality of the criminal justice system, which does not treat everyone equally. had.

“I think racism is clear and clear across the law enforcement system … why it’s not ideal to write on paper when it comes to neighborhoods that are more guarded than others. I’m in contact with the defendant at. I withdrew it as legitimate, but don’t pass the odor test, “the prosecutor told the paper.

At a press conference, McCann denied that police racism was the reason the case reached the prosecutor’s desk.

“I think there are individual situations in which an incident that could have been inadequate contact with the police could get our attention,” McCann said with the DA office. He added that the Denver Police Department has set up a committee to investigate such situations. ..

The prosecutor said, “I explained using specific and subjective factors when making an offer to admit or deny the charges, and admitted that some of them were related to race and ethnicity,” the study said. I am.

This study aimed to turn numbers and facts into digestible and practical ideas.

The next steps that McCann has taken or stated have already taken are:

  • We will review the case, decide which one to accept, and take steps to ensure that the case that is ultimately rejected due to police-related issues is rejected from the beginning.
  • Work with other parts of the criminal justice system, such as police, public defenders, and advocates, to devise a system to ensure that postponed judgments, professional courts, and diversion program eligibility requirements support impartial outcomes. To do.
  • Supports racial and ethnic diversity among DA staff.
  • We will continue to collect and review data such as the racial and ethnic composition of the cases accepted by DA’s office.

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